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Formula 1 Mexico City GP

Verstappen, Hamilton escape sanctions for Mexico F1 qualifying incidents

Max Verstappen, George Russell and Fernando Alonso have escaped sanctions for impeding others in Formula 1's Mexico Grand Prix qualifying, while Lewis Hamilton was also cleared for a potential rules breach.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Ahead of the final runs in Q1, Verstappen, Alonso and Russell all backed up other cars while leaving the pitlane in a bid to create a gap and find clear air.

All three drivers were summoned by the FIA's stewards for "unnecessarily impeding" at pit exit, but they decided not to take any further action.

The drivers and their team managers successfully argued that their actions were the result of the maximum delta time, which prevents drivers from going too slowly out on the circuit to find clear air.

Instead, they felt forced to do so coming out of the pitlane, the one area of the circuit that isn't covered by the maximum delta time between the second and first safety car line.

In their verdict the stewards wrote: "The stewards consider that the entire set of incidents occurred as a direct result of the implementation of the minimum lap time between SC2 and SC1, which is designed (correctly so, in our view) to avoid dangerous backing-up of cars on the circuit during qualification.

"We note that there are contrary requirements on drivers in that they must respect the minimum time, they are attempting to create manageable gaps to cars in front, yet they are also required to avoid unnecessarily stopping at the pit exit or driving unnecessarily slowly."

The stewards agreed that slowly driving out of the pitlane is much less dangerous than backing up cars elsewhere on the race track, which leads to much bigger speed differences.

However, they noted that while the pit exit incidents were the lesser of two evils, a solution to avoid a repeat must be found.

"All parties including the stewards are firmly of the view that it is better to have the potential of cars backing up in the pit lane or at the pit exit, instead of the potentially dangerous situation of large speed differences on track.

"It is desirable that better solution be found for the pit exit however at this stage, what that solution would be, is unknown."

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Russell said of the situation: "They ask us not to stop in the pit lane, but if you don't make your gap in the pit lane, you have to make it on track. And for me, it's quite dangerous if you're doing 10 km/h down the straight when cars are doing 330 on their push laps."

Russell's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was also cleared for allegedly failing to slow for yellow flags in Q1, when Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso spun in Turn 3.

But an investigation soon brought to light that there was no wrongdoing on the seven-time world champion's behalf, as he had slowed sufficiently compared to his previous fastest lap.

Under the same yellow flag zone, Logan Sargeant passed AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, for which the Williams driver was handed a 10-place grid penalty and two penalty points. The American was already set to start last in Mexico after seeing both his Q1 laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

Williams was also fined 20,000 euros, half of which is suspended, for leaving a jack in its pit box, which was then hit by Tsunoda as he left his garage.

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