Max Verstappen engaged in a bit of pushing and shoving after today’s Brazilian Grand Prix in the weigh in room after the race. Having been punted by Force India’s Esteban Ocon as he tried to un-lap himself on fresher tires, Verstappen’s Red Bull spun out of the lead of the race and handed the victory to Lewis Hamilton.
Frustration levels were running very high with Max after working so hard to take the lead from Lewis on lap 40 only to lose it four laps later when Ocon put his nose down the inside of Max’s car at turn 2. The resulting collision resulted in a second place finish for the Dutchman and left Force India defending the right of their driver to try and un-lap himself—which Lewis Hamilton also defended in the cool-down room when chatting with Max.
Hamilton also offered some sage wisdom that he’s learned over the many years and championships his won. Lewis rightfully said that Max had more to lose in the altercation than Esteban who wasn’t even a factor. This implies that Max should have let Ocon go through and saved his lead.
Lewis is right in that sense, Max did have a lot more to lose but there is an element that applies here in that the leader of the race, having the racing line in the corner, may not have even suspected that a lapped car would try to tuck in underneath him.
The shoving match promptly generated a summons to the FIA race stewards in which a penalty was handed down to Max for his physical altercation. Mandatory public service for two days.
“Max Verstappen entered the FIA Weigh Bridge Garage, proceeded directly to Esteban Ocon and following a few words, started an altercation, pushing or hitting Ocon forcefully several times in the chest.
“The stewards understood from Max Verstappen that he was extremely upset by the incident on track during the race and accepted his explanation that it was not his original intent to strike Ocon, but that he was “triggered” and caused him to lose his temper.
“While sympathetic to Verstappen’s passion, the stewards determined that it is the obligation of sportsmen at this level to act appropriately and as role models to other drivers at all levels and found that Verstappen failed in this respect.”
It’s been entertaining to watch the press make a meal out of this story as the season is effectively done and dusted and the fans at home are heaping conspiracy theories on this incident like shovels of coal in the Flying Scotsman steaming up the rhetoric and firing up the fans of Ocon, Verstappen (and nation full of Dutch folks) and both Force India and Red Bull fanatics.
So it’s two days of public service for Max and perhaps, like past offenses with similar punitive actions, it will manifest itself into visits to discuss road safety for FIA sanctioned events. Time will tell.