Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon escape qualifying penalties

Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon have escaped punishment after being investigated for driving unnecessarily slowly on their inlaps in United States Grand Prix qualifying.

Mercedes driver Bottas qualified third for the Austin race, while Ocon put his Racing Point Force India sixth on the grid.

Both were summoned by the stewards on Saturday evening for allegedly breaching Article 27.4 of the FIA’s F1 sporting regulations, “driving unnecessarily slowly on an inlap during qualifying”, after the chequered flag in the final part of qualifying.

But the stewards, including former grand prix driver Derek Warwick, decided to take no further action.

They deemed both drivers had exceeded the specified maximum time between safety car lines, but accepted neither had driven “unnecessarily slowly or in a manner to adversely affect any other driver”.

A grid penalty for Bottas would have elevated his team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel to fourth on the grid ahead of Sunday’s potentially title-deciding grand prix.

Vettel set the second-fastest time in qualifying but was demoted to fifth thanks to a grid penalty for a red-flag offence committed on Friday.

Vettel must avoid being outscored by Hamilton by eight points to stop the British driver clinching the title on Sunday.

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