Verstappen stripped of Mexico pole, hands Hamilton sixth title boost

Verstappen stripped of pole for ignoring yellow flags

Why did Lewis Hamilton sell his private jet and luxury cars?

Mercedes expect world title challenger Valtteri Bottas to retain his sixth place on the grid, without any penalties, after repairs to his crashed vehicle ahead of Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton's quest to secure a sixth world championship in Mexico received a controversial boost on Saturday night after Max Verstappen was stripped of pole position.

A spokesman for the governing FIA said the 22-year-old Red Bull driver had been summoned to the stewards for comments made in an official post-qualifying news conference.

"We came here thinking we were on the back foot and it was a hard race for us, but we pulled through".

"It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race and Ferrari will be very quick tomorrow so tyre life will be important but we have a really good race auto so it should be a close fight", Verstappen was quoted as saying in the aftermath of the verdict. I don't try to put pressure on but naturally it's a pressure environment.

The race began in warm and dry conditions, Leclerc making a clean getaway from his seventh pole, ahead of Vettel, as Ferrari enjoyed their 65th front row lockout, gifted by Verstappen's qualifying penalty.

Despite the qualifying penalty, Verstappen believed a victory challenge was "still on" from fourth on the grid, but his race unravelled during early battles with Hamilton and Bottas. "I hesitated getting back on the power and by the time I realised there was a crash I was basically past it".

"Generally, I was quite happy with today".

Hamilton said he did not mind not winning the title in Mexico as he had without a podium finish in 2017 and 2018.

By then, the first Virtual Safety Car (VSC) intervention, to clear debris, had been completed to be followed by another burst of "mad Max" fury when he lunged into Bottas and picked up a puncture. He started on the hard tyres and didn't pit until around lap 50. So we were quite surprised early on that Leclerc committed so early to the two stop.

And with Hamilton's tyres losing grip and Vettel closing to within a couple of seconds with a handful of laps remaining, it looked as if the Ferrari may yet be able to catch up.

He leaves Mexico City, where he tied up the championship in both the last two seasons, with a 74-point lead over Bottas, the only man who can mathematically beat him. That backfired when Leclerc's second stop was botched on the tire change and his chances of hunting the leaders over the final laps was finished.

Hamilton was down to fifth after the opening lap, but quickly pushed his way back to fourth, setting up a long chase for the win.

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