Max Verstappen admits he should have lifted when arriving on the scene of Valtteri Bottas' accident in qualifying but insists Lewis Hamilton should have been penalized as well for not slowing in the zone.
Verstappen was stripped of pole position and handed a three-spot grid drop by the Mexican Grand Prix stewards who concluded that the Red Bull driver, who was on his final Q3 qualifying attempt at the time, had not respected the yellow flag waved at the final corner ahead of Bottas' stricken Mercedes while.
The Dutchman revisited the incident after Sunday's race and revealed his annoyance with a sanction that he considered had not been evenly applied by the FIA stewards.
"The rule is very clear. The only thing I want to say on it from my side - because there were a lot of comments about it - and looking back for sure, yeah, I should have lifted but then everybody should do the same," said Verstappen.
"I know Seb [Vettel] did, but one silver car didn’t, then he doesn’t get a penalty and that annoys me as well. It is what it is, I can't decide for other drivers about the rules."
Interestingly, Verstappen's transgression in qualifying wasn't initially investigated by the stewards.
But in the post-qualifying press conference, the Dutchman admitted - with an air of brashness - that he had not slowed in the accident zone, claiming he knew what he was doing, a comment that many believed likely irked the stewards and triggered their investigation which was announced over 90 minutes after the end of Q3.
However, FIA race director Michael Masi denied that Verstappen's words led to the stewards' action, insisting there was simply an internal notification delay.
"By the time I referred it to the stewards and told the stewards that the matter’s to be looked at, it was after that that Max’s comments came to light," Masi explained, quoted by RaceFans.
"We were actually looking into it straight away, but with the sequence of what happened, the primary thing was Valtteri’s health, getting the Medical Car out there, making sure that he was all OK.
"So, [that] being at the end of the session was one part. The second part, once that happened, was obviously getting the car back to the team.
"The third element [was] repairing the circuit for the next activity. So as part of my role as the safety delegate, I went out there to make sure that everything was back in position."
After concluding his track inspection, Masi then finally took the time to focus on the incident and the specific actions of Verstappen, Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
"[I] got back to the office and started working through all the various bits of data that exists and had all three cars that were after Valtteri’s incident, which was Lewis, Sebastian and Max, and reviewed all three."
Masi also shed light on the reason why Hamilton was not penalized along with Verstappen.
"There was no yellow flag," he said. "The marshal did an amazing job at that point and showed the yellow flag relatively quickly.
"There was none for Lewis but for Sebastian and Max there was."