Abu Dhabi: Max Verstappen still begs to differ from the FIA, but the Red Bull Racing driver will go ahead and serve a two-day community service slapped on him by the governing body.
At the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix, Force India’s Esteban Ocon hit then-race leader Verstappen while trying to unlap himself, pushing the race leader off-track and damaging his car floor. Both drivers were able to continue racing and Ocon received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident.
The two drivers later argued just after the race in which Verstappen finished second. Verstappen later pushed Ocon several times, after which both drivers were summoned by the FIA and the Dutch was given two days of “public service at the discretion of the FIA” for making deliberate physical contact. The governing body and Verstappen’s team is yet to discuss the service to be meted out to the youngster.
“You guys really love this sort of news even when all is good with us. We can’t change results now and I would term it as an unfortunate incident. I think I was calm all along. We are all emotional and it all happened just at a time when I lost a victory. It could have been much worse,” Verstappen said at the official press conference on Thursday.
“Pushing happens in any sport. It’s quite a normal response. I watched a football match yesterday and they push all the time. What do you want me to do? Do you want me to shake his hand and say: thank you very much for helping me lose the race? You guys should also listen to the conversation and not only look at the pushing done by me. Only then will you be able to put things in perspective,” the 21-year-old added.
“I really don’t know about what I will have to do. There will be a discussion between the team and the FIA,” he said.
“If I agree with it, and it really doesn’t matter. But I do find it a bit harsh. Eventually we will find a solution,” he added.
When pointed out by a journalist that Verstappen had charged Ocon as intentionally colliding with him during a recent television interview, the Dutchman snapped back: “I don’t care what is written on Twitter. We are all emotional people. It is just a time when I lost a victory. It could have been much worse. To me, pushing was a normal response,” he stressed.
At 17 years and 166 days, Verstappen became the youngest driver to compete in Formula 1 at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix for Scuderia Toro Rosso. After spending the entire 2015 season with Scuderia Toro Rosso, he started 2016 campaign with the Italian team before being promoted into Red Bull Racing mid-season as a replacement for Daniil Kvyat.
He won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix in his debut race for Red Bull Racing at the age of 18, becoming the youngest-ever winner of a Grand Prix and the first racing under the Dutch flag.
Currently in fifth place with 234 points in the overall drivers’ standings, Verstappen can still finish on the podium as he chases Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas (237 points) and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (251 points).