The 2016 Mexico Grand Prix was threatening to be a procession with most cars on a one-stop strategy, but it came alive three laps from the end after different strategies by Red Bull and Ferrari saw Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo fighting for the final podium place behind the two Mercedes cars.
Lewis Hamilton took a comfortable win over teammate Nico Rosberg to keep his title hopes alive, but it could have all gone wrong had the stewards punished him for cutting corners on the opening lap. Hamilton led at the start of the race, but under pressure from his teammate, he locked his front wheels going into turn one, which saw him go off track and rejoin at turn three, with a bigger gap than he had going into the first turn.
The Briton did gain a slight advantage, but the stewards decided not to punish him for his actions, but penalised Verstappen later in the race for doing the same thing while defending his third place from Vettel. The duo were battling for a place on the podium when the Dutch driver overshot his braking and went off track at turn one and even after being told to give the third place to the Ferrari driver, he refused to do so, which earned him a five-second penalty.
The German driver was handed the third place initially but was later penalised for moving under braking and handed a ten-second penalty, which saw Riccardo move up to third and Vettel to fifth behind Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver was incensed after he missed out on the podium celebrations and hit out at the inconsistency shown by the stewards as he believes Hamilton also deserved a penalty for his off-track excursion on the opening lap.
"I didn't understand the start. How you can be leading the race, defend, lock your wheels and go off-track and still stay in the lead. I think Lewis deserved a penalty," Ricciardo said, as quoted by ESPN F1.
"I saw Max cut the chicane trying to defend Seb, he got a penalty, so I don't know what was different with his move and Lewis'. For me, if you lock up and cut the corner, it's a mistake and you have to pay the price."
"Don't get me wrong, I love racing, I love racing hard, locking brakes and a bit of contact is fine but this whole moving under braking, like if you are going to defend, commit early. You don't do it more than once when you've been out-foxed," the Australian explained with regards to his incident with Vettel with two laps remaining in the race.
"I felt like that's what I did today, he moved, I went, I won the chess match if you like and he was like 'Oh I've screwed up, I better repair my mistake', so for me that's not right. I would love to be up there [on the podium] but it was still a fun race," he added.