Max sides with Vettel over controversial penalty


Formula One - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - October 5, 2018 Ferrari's Sebastian ...
Formula One - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - October 5, 2018 Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after practice REUTERS/Toru Hanai

In Summary

  • Max Verstappen believes Sebastian Vettel didn't deserve his race-losing penalty in Canada and says that F1 should "throw the rulebook away" when it comes to wheel-to-wheel racing
  • Verstappen, the out-spoken and competitive Red Bull star, has been a staunch advocate of more lenient decisions to improve on-track battles throughout his F1 career and sided with Vettel over his punishment

Max Verstappen believes Sebastian Vettel didn’t deserve his race-losing penalty in Canada and says that F1 should “throw the rulebook away” when it comes to wheel-to-wheel racing.

Verstappen, the out-spoken and competitive Red Bull star, has been a staunch advocate of more lenient decisions to improve on-track battles throughout his F1 career and sided with Vettel over his punishment.

“I think he didn’t deserve a penalty,” Verstappen told Sky F1 when asked about Vettel’s battle with Lewis Hamilton and subsequent 5s time penalty.

Verstappen added to reporters: “The first mistake was that Seb went off the track but then I think when he rejoined he didn’t do anything.

“He was not purposely blocking Lewis. He did everything he could to do it in a safe way. So I think why they gave him the penalty was wrong.”

Ferrari continue to challenge the decision, and their request to have Vettel’s penalty reviewed will be heard by stewards at the French GP on Friday.

Verstappen has fallen foul of F1’s rules before and though the Red Bull driver says race stewards shouldn’t be criticised for enforcing the letter of the law, he thinks the sport’s racing regulations need a rethink.

“I am not a big fan of all the rules,” he said. “I would throw the rulebook away in terms of racing.

“A bit of safe wheel banging and stuff, that’s what everybody likes to see – unless you’re not a racer.”

Vettel himself has criticised the rules, declaring that he wished he raced in a different era.

Asked what would constitute as a penalty in his rulebook by the media, Verstappen replied: “If you hit each other off the track. A bit of wheel-banging won’t hurt!”

Verstappen talks Vettel-Hamilton

The clash between Vettel and Hamilton has sparked one of the more divisive debates of the F1 2019 season, with every angle poured over and every slow-mo from the drivers’ on-boards analysed after a controversial Canadian GP.

And Verstappen went into more detail on his view of the incident.

“Of course, it’s Vettel’s mistake that he goes off the track – but he didn’t do anything weird coming back on because you have dirt on your tyres, and you come back on you’re sliding,” he explained.

“At one point you see him looking in the mirror but then the damage was already done, he recovered the car and there was no space.

“I think in general if you are going to give penalties like that why don’t you just put a wall there, because then if he makes a mistake the race is over for him.”

He continued: “If you are going to award a penalty maybe don’t do it in the race, because it destroys the whole excitement of Lewis catching the Seb and then fighting for the win.”

Verstappen also claimed that Hamilton would have known what he was doing by aiming for the outside of Turn Four, but admitted he understood both drivers’ points of view.

“Of course when [Vettel] goes off in the lead and you know that Lewis is behind only by one or 1.5s, you stay on throttle and you’re managing,” he said. “But Lewis saw him going off.

“When he goes through the left-hander he knows that Seb is going to come back on and then of course he knows he’s going to drift wide.

“But if I would have been Lewis I would have been on the radio like, ‘he blocked me’, because you know it’s in the rules and there’s a possible penalty. I understand both drivers.”

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