Max Verstappen did not talk himself into a grid penalty says Michael Masi, even though the stewards only investigated after the post-qualifying press conference.
Verstappen claimed pole position at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez but set his fastest lap time under waved yellow for Valtteri Bottas’ crash.
The stewards did not investigate until after the post-qualifying press conference in which Verstappen admitted to being aware of Bottas’ crash and deliberately not slowing.
MV: “I was aware Bottas had crashed.”
Press: “Did you back off?”
MV: “It didn't really look like it did it?”
Wondering how Verstappen can be absolved of an infringement b4 admitting to it, & only *then* being investigated? You’re not paying attention.pic.twitter.com/NGW5USaayI
— Late Brakers (@LateBrakers) October 26, 2019
The Dutchman was bullish as he believed he would only lose that lap time.
The stewards, though, slapped him with a three-place penalty for ignoring the yellow flags, dropping him to fourth on the grid.
This led to headlines that Verstappen had talked himself into a penalty.
Masi says he was already looking at it well before the press conference but it took a while to pass the message onto the stewards given everything that was going on.
“We were actually looking into it straight away,” he told RaceFans.net, “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.”
He added that he did speak with the stewards before being made aware of Verstappen’s remarks.
“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.”