Verstappen the ‘victim’ at Spa?

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If you’re looking for some sort of concession on Max Verstappen’s part for his role in the turn 1 incident with two Ferraris in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix from Spa Francorchamps, you’re not going to get it. That’s not how Max roles and it certainly isn’t his fault:

“I was a victim in the first corner, you could see clearly I was on the inside, almost 90%,” said Verstappen.

“I didn’t lock a tyre, so it didn’t show I was diving up the inside, I was just trying to make my corner.

“First of all Kimi started to squeeze me but we are not touching each other but then Sebastian decided to turn in on both of us.

“He turned into Kimi and Kimi hit me so from there on, the front wing was destroyed and my floor.”

“They should understand that first of all they destroyed my race in Turn 1 so why should I say ‘OK here you can go’,” he said.

“Of course it was quite aggressive, but they destroyed my race so it’s not like I say you can take my position that easy as well.”

There’s very little doubt in my mind that Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did not see Verstappen jamming up the inside, off line and underneath Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Sebastian could shoulder a lion’s share of the blame as he turned aggressively into turn 1 anticipating enough room for his teammate, Kimi, to take a tight line on the inside and get a good launch on exit. There was room for both Ferraris but not when you add a Red Bull underneath them.

Vettel felt that Ferrari had a very good chance of finishing second and third and given their pace while damaged, I think he may be right. Regardless, Kimi Raikkonen was highly critical of the young Dutchman as was Mercedes boss Toto Wolff who said:

“The FIA has not penalised it, the only thing that has happened is that he has been given a hard time in the drivers’ briefings.

“Maybe next time, he will have a harder time.

“I just fear it might end up in the wall heavily one day. It is refreshing but dangerous.”

As I’ve mentioned many times before, Toto is never at a loss for an opinion on everything in Formula 1 whether it has anything to do with his team or operation or not. Curious about driver contract negotiations between Force India and Sergio Perez? Toto has an opinion. Wonder if Silverstone will be saved? Toto has an opinion. Concerned for Kevin Magnussens foot? Toto has an opinion. When it comes to Toto’s opinion on his driver, Red Bull’s Christian Horner has an opinion too:

“I’m surprised Toto is commenting on something that has nothing to do with him.”

Zing! That’s precisely what I would have said if I were team boss of Red Bull.

Regardless of how much blame you ascribe to Vettel or Verstappen in turn 1, what became clear was the very fact that Max fell for the oldest rookie mistake in the book—trying to win the race on the first lap. If you’re questioning that, his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, proves that measured aggression and defense can result in a podium as he managed his race and defended against a storming Lewis Hamilton.

I certainly have respect for what Max has achieved and quite a bit of room for his race craft honing that is taking place. All drivers go through it as they get more experience in F1. Max is young, brave, unrelenting and that’s what makes him so exciting to watch. Don’t believe me? Well then perhaps you’ll believe Toto’s opinion on the matter:

“He is refreshing for me. He is a young boy I like a lot,” said Wolff.

“He comes in here with no fear, no respect, puts the elbows out.

“It reminds me of the great ones – it reminds me of Lewis [Hamilton], of Ayrton Senna.

“You can see that some guys are starting to think twice about how to overtake him.

Actually, Toto forgot a name—Michael Schumacher was also young, aggressive and all elbows and he won seven titles and 91 races…nearly as much as Hamilton and Senna combined. Max very well could be a complete revelation to F1 when he gets his race craft honed and a measured approach to aggression and defense.

On first blush, you could certainly call his move at turn 1 exciting and aggressive but if you re-watch the incident, he’s completely off track with all four over the white line on the inside and if we’re honest, that’s a track limit issue and even if he did make the pass stick, would the stewards have felt that he gained no advantage by going off track? I’m not sure but in the end, it was his defensive moves against Kimi on Kemmel Straight, running off two or three corners on the first lap with a damaged front wing and ragged run to 11th that draw a more complete picture than just turn 1. Meanwhile, his teammate Ricciardo took his Red Bull to second place and even if the incident didn’t happen and both Ferrari’s finished second and third, Max would have been fourth and most likely ahead of his teammate.

In the end, Max is there to win and not finish fourth and that’s what makes him such a dynamic and exciting racer to watch so it will be interesting to watch his career develop and see what becomes of this Nederlander.



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Joe Mama

Well, he IS exciting to watch. And the agressive methodology he uses has been repeatedly proven successful in the past, over the long run, despite the immediate irritation and hazard to the competition and himself.

I agree with Toto, whether Horner agrees or not; Verstappen is a breath of fresh air…fresh air that reeks of racing fuel and burnt rubber. For now, I’ll side with the stewards and say, “Let him take some rope and see what he does with it.”


Well said. He got the finishing position he deserved. Fini.

Tom Firth

The fact Toto calls him ‘a boy’ says as much as you need to know about the impression teams that don’t have verstappen use to discredit him. Sour grapes from Merc that they weren’t able to sign him.

If we are going to have complaints of ageism and sexism within the sport, can we not refer to someone who is legally an adult as ‘a boy’.

Tom Firth

Sure yesterday he didn’t cover himself in glory and deserved a penalty for some the moves later in the race, but criticise him for that. Not play the age card everytime he does something controversial.

Negative Camber

Said the very young man. ;) I agree, as an old guy, I’m not fan of ageism. Also, I think Max has a very mature head on his shoulders for his age and that’s a big credit to him, I was a loon at that age. :)

Tom Firth

Heh, yes. Fair response. I’d of had the maturity I think, but certainly not the talent or the guts to pilot a race car.

Meine Postma

So, calling a boy a boy and an old man an old man is ageism?


We saw a some of that with Vettel as well (even at Spa too) in the past. I do think Toto characterizes it well. Verstappen was not to blame for the first turn incident, Vettel takes most of that. And it is exciting to watch, but also sees Max facing earned critisizm. I do think that Verstappen would have done better to calm down, his approach to the race showed his frustration, and that is where Vettel (who went on with the job despite knowing he hit his teammate), Kimi (who might have been able to win the race without… Read more »

Bill Cape Coral

Really look at the photo right above your post, Max “The Child” Verstrappen is 100% at fault he has his entire car off the race track.

Dennis Jeremiah

Level headed guy? Are you crazy? this very level headed guy goes on air saying that we would drive the ferraris off track for what they did to him. Is this level headed to you? This is crazy road rash and there is no place for such mentality in professional sports. Definitely not a good idea when you are driver at 300 kms/hr

Tom Firth

No, he’s not crazy. He has a viewpoint that is different to yours, that is all.

Here at FBC, we have a rule of civility and decorum towards each other when commenting. Would appreciate if you would follow that rule in future responses. Thanks.


IMO Verstappen bears full responsibility for events surrounding T1 at Spa race. Vettel asked the essential question (second time, BTW, first one was with Kvyat), and as far as I can tell, had not received any answers, namely, where was Max thinking he was going, even if both Ferrari’s moved away, and taken wider turn. Analysis is ostensibly missing in media, and taking cheap shots at Vettel (not in this article though) is much more fun, yet it seems rather obvious, that Verstappen would have gravitated across track towards outer limit, parading right in the front of both Ferraris, if… Read more »


I would not blame Max 100% for the incident, more of a 50/50 with Max taking simply way too much risk for the first corner of a race.

But I’am sure the social media will explode first time Max pulls some risky moves on Lewis! Will be fun to watch. On screen and on twitter … ;-)


Among three cars involved, Vettel was in the lead, and could choose his racing line. It was that always that way for a leading car, so I do not know when that has changed (more like people forgot about it – conveniently). Verstappen, coming from behind, had some obligations on his part, and he failed all of those.


There was significant overlap between all three cars before Vettel turned in, where did he expect them to go? Raikkonen was more than halfway alongside Vettel, and Verstappen even further forwards against Raikkonen. While Verstappen’s move may have been optimistic, it wasn’t against any current rule, Raikkonen was completely blameless, only hitting the Red Bull after being pushed there by his team-mate. Vettel’s only mitigation was he couldn’t see Verstappen behind Raikkonen, however it was the first lap and it would be unusual if the field was in single file. Verstappen holding a grudge, and then moving over on the… Read more »


Not a one driver on the grid will leave gate wide open for several cars to pass, lets be honest about that. Replace Seb with Max, and think whether Max would have leave door open. Neither would Hamilton, Alonso, or Button. Vettel was aware of one car, and took care of that. Rule or not, there is a such thing as common sense, and driver’s instinct how different scenarios might pan out. Max demonstratively is lacking that level of racing experience when cars are on the edge. Yet question Vettel asked remains unanswered, namely, where Max was thinking that he… Read more »


Who hit who first? Vettel’s actions led to him spinning and damage to his own car. This is the second time this year that he has blamed his old team when he drove into Raikkonen.

He didn’t need to leave the door wide open, just six ordinances would have been enough, and the outside line at La Source has been shown to be faster on a number of occasions in the past. It isn’t just Verstappen who needs to learn that while you can’t win a race in the first corner, you can certainly lose one.


Clasical cause&effect based on (racing) assumptions. Vettel left enough space of his teammate and assumed, that Raikonnen will turn in; that’s what people should be doing in right-hander. Seb of course had no idea what kind of mess Dutch created on the other side, placing Kimi into precarious position, thus when Seb was turning in (into a turn), Kimi wasn’t supposed to be there by then, as he was supposed to ride apex in tight line. Again, many are playing Monday morning quarterbacks, but in real time, Vettel was working on reasonable assumptions, under limited visibility. That of course did… Read more »


Well… there’s being “optimistic” and there’s being completely off the track and still expecting other guys to make a way for you, if you ask me.

Ad Noordzij

Both are going in at about the same speed and angle. Raikkonen on softs and Verstappen inside on supersofts. Verstappen has said that he would have made it. I say that with his move he was at the mercy of the Ferrari drivers.


Vettel disagrees, and so do I, despite that I know much less about racing than the champ. What is Verstappen suggesting Vettel should have done if he takes offence at the fact that Vettel took the turn? Vettel could not have seen what was happening behind him apart from the front spoiler of Kimi’s car. Vettel has a right to race like everyone else. Just think about reverse situation, and place Vettel into RB, and Max into No.5 – and now tell me what would headlines say.

Ad Noordzij

I have had a look at the analysis @ and my reading is that Verstappen was not with all four wheels over the white line at turn one. At least not before the impact with Raikkonen, and arguably not even after. Would that change your analysis / conclusion about the turn one situation?


As Martin Brundle said in commentary: “Verstappen has to learn to pick the right fights”. He is exciting to watch, but he still has a lot to learn.
And I would think, that Helmut Marko and Christian Horner, while maybe defending their driver publicly, will also at some point sit down with him to make sure next time Max comes home with more points.
And also Max’s argument about his moves later, that since there was not a penalty they were fine works unfortunately for him both ways because Vettel was not penalised as well.

Paul KieferJr

In the end, it’s three people at fault: Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen. They all tried to claim the same piece of real estate going into Turn 1 and violate the Laws of Physics. That’s never going to end well.



Junipero Mariano

I think Vettel does most of the blame in this one. Even if Max wasn’t there, would Kimi have been able to react in time? I also think Max being at the end of this, should’ve seen this coming. After his pit stop, he didn’t recover the way the Ferraris did, even as Ricciardo showed what the Red Bull could do that day. The physical and mental shakeup of the crash to him and the car and also the expectations heaped upon him that day is probably caused him to overdrive at Spa. Of all the commentary on Max’s driving… Read more »


Verstappen pulled into the pit lane at the end of the first lap for a new nose, that is when Hamilton passed him, as he passed most people. He overtook very few on track.

Daniel Sebergsen

It is totally ridiculous to blame Vettel in this case. When sitting in the cockpit there is very limited sigth to the sides. How on earth was Vettel going to see the annoying dutchess storming on the inside. I don’t think Vettel or any other driver is clairvoyant enough to see what Maximum Verstappen is about to do at any given point. I agree that this was a classic rookie mistake.


If you watch the replay slowly you can clearly see that vettel turned in so tight that if you look from above and remove both raikkonen and Verstappen from the frame vettel would have taken that corner about 4 feet from the apex. That’s so close that even if Verstappen not there vettel would have crashed into raikkonen. Verstappen had nowhere to go and you can see he doesn’t skid, lockup or swivel. Now if you take vettel out of the frame and look at just raikkonen and Verstappen both drivers are in line, almost even (Verstappen front wheel about… Read more »


Left this out* disclaimer
I don’t believe vettel should receive any sort of reprimand for the incident, especially considering there is no way he could have seen Verstappen. I do believe however that Verstappen is not at fault.


Let me try this one on you. In a hypothetical scenario when only two Ferraris were in contention for the T1, there is no doubt in my mind that Kimi had sufficient space to take inside line, and go wheel to wheel with Seb, thus when Vettel turned in, there would had not been any contact between red cars, as Kimi turned in as well. Depends if you accept that proposition. Back to reality, there was a contact. Vettel turned in, and Kimi instead turning into his right, he was taking a straight line. Reason – Max in bull rage… Read more »

Dennis Jeremiah

Even after looking at the above image you believe that Verstappen was not at fault. You are seriously a diehard fan. Kudos to you.

Zachary Noepe

All interesting issues well described, very good point about the track limits inside turn one, not sure what it means but hadn’t thought about it. Disagree with the criticism of Toto Wolff I find his opinions measured but substantive, I like it that he doesn’t say ‘everyone out here’s great so it’s going to be hard, this is formula one. We’ll hope for the best for our team!’ no matter what the question is. I usually agree with him and I admire how he’s handled the two crazy people who drive for him. I think Christian Horner should be spending… Read more »


What happened the last time a brash young RBR driver embarrassed himself in front of his home crowd with a series of rash, immature and desperate over-tries?

If I was Carlos Sainz I’d be keeping my phone turned on all week, just in case…



I think it’s just daft to start a race a few hundred meters away from *that* corner, a ~140 degree hairpin.

Tom Firth

Spa does not for other events. The 24 hour race starts in the dip before the run up Eau Rouge/Raidillon.

That’s what the other start line is for. In some ways, it would be interesting for F1 to do that. In others, it ruins the history.

Martin Faber

Verstappen didn’t do much wrong on track, 1st corner was a very legit move, he would have regained his second position if the Ferrari’s didn’t squeezed him tight.
The controversial defending on Raikkonen was controversial, but again within the rules.
a driver may defend his position and chose a line before or after the attacker chooses his line. Although Raikkonen was furious the move was legit.

What went terribly wrong was Raikkonen putting on a show on track asking for penalties and Verstappens reaction post race was rather harsh, he needs to cool down before talking to the press.


“1st corner was a very legit move, he would have regained his second position if the Ferrari’s didn’t squeezed him tight.” Right on. How dare those World Champions in cars both ahead of Verstappen’s choose a race line without accounting for Max’s wishes? Simply preposterous! “a driver may defend his position and chose a line before or after the attacker chooses his line. Although Raikkonen was furious the move was legit.” It wouldn’t hurt to read the rules again and then place yourself in the cockpit of a vehicle travelling 200+mph. Tell me this though how many drivers have you… Read more »

Martin Faber

Consider the textbook method for overtaking in a corner: the attacker takes an inside line, gets alongside the defender in the braking zone, and beats the defender to the apex. If the attacker is ahead at the apex, there is no dispute over ownership of the racing line. The defender must yield. But what if the attacker is only partially alongside? Who owns the apex then? It is generally accepted that the attacker must be at least halfway alongside the defender when they reach the apex to have a reasonable claim to this piece of track. Picked from the rules… Read more »


“The defender must yield. But what if the attacker is only partially alongside? Who owns the apex then?” That would be a question for stewards to interpret. Looking at the screen shot and not having telemetry data it still is hard to believe he would be a. able to complete the turn b. not collect any vehicles in the process. Could’ve simply backed out and file a complaint with stewards using partially alongside argument you have mentioned. That, however, requires too much IQ. Something this young Dutchman is clearly in deficit. I wish harm to no one but instead of… Read more »

Martin Faber

This is just playing dumb… Verstappens front wing was next to Raikkonens front wheel… already on the straight


Not sure what are you referring to. There is no denying Verstappens’ wing was past 2/3 of Raikonnen’s car. My point was that forcing a move like that was bound to damage at least two vehicles: 1. Kimi moves to leave some room and runs into Vettel (lets assume Verstappen makes extremely tight turn without self inflicted damage) 2. Kimi doesn’t move Reckless, disrespectful, plain dumb? Call it whatever you want it. How many other drivers have you seen forcing a move like that (besides Kvyat)? Case can be made Vettel could’ve taken a wider turn but from where he… Read more »


Unlike Vettel did in China when Kvyat appeared alongside him, Raikkonen did not turn left into his team-mate, he kept going straight for a little longer to give room to the car alongside. Vettel on the other hand turned in to force Raikkonen to take a tighter line which would help Vettel to remain in front on the run down the hill. Unfortunately Raikkonen couldn’t turn in without hitting Verstappen, and Vettel didn’t notice in time. The issue I have with Verstappen’s driving on Sunday was that he held a grudge against Raikkonen or the incident at turn one and… Read more »


I am not Vettel but if I see Kimi that close to the inside approaching the turn I am going to conclude there is no sane person further behind and on inside that is going to try make the turn as well. After all my nose is the one that is furthest forward. Don’t get me even started on that. Not sure which one is worse Verstappen for acting like that at 200+mph or “stewards” for allowing him to pass. I get that Red Bull is spending almost as much as Mercedes and they are promoting the sport but things… Read more »

Negative Camber

I understand what Max felt like he could do but I’m not sure he was ever going to “make it”. Teh road runs out pretty quickly in this pic.

Ad Noordzij

This is the wrong pic to look at for that question, and so the comment is suggestive. You should look at an overhead pic. However, this is the right pic for seeing that he is still on track even though he is being squeezed by Raikkonen.


“However, this is the right pic for seeing that he is still on track”

Can you define term track for me? It was my understanding that is the asphalt portion between the two white lines.

Ad Noordzij

From FIA 2016 Formula One Sporting Regulations – Rule 27.4: “Drivers will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with it and, for the avoidance of doubt, any white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.”


Good. Mine was a rhetorical question.

Can you elaborate on how is Raikonnen “squeezing him”? Bare in mind this is a screen grab and not a video.

Ad Noordzij Chaos at La Source – Was anyone to blame? @ 0.52 they are still on the straight and Verstappen is already on the inside of Raikkonen (that is, a “significant portion” of Verstappen’s car – Rule 27.7); at that point there is still about one car-width space on the inside of Verstappen. @ 0.52 Raikkonen is already steering towards the inside of the corner, and by 0.54 they have reached the corner and Raikkonen has moved so much to the inside that parts of Verstappen’s car are starting the cross the white line (but as per regulations he still… Read more »


My impression is Kimi glanced over approaching the corner and deducted no person with common sense in them would attempt any kind of maneuver nor is there room to his left to move in a safe manner and kept his line.


Is he at full lock here? Was this move ever going to work? Seems he would’ve been a bit oblique to the traffic, no matter what. Oh well, they would’ve probably gotten out of the way. I mean hey, Golden Boy comin’ through, right? Actually, I believe the correct term for the angle of Max’s car as compared to the others is the “Mald-angle”. As for the full lock, I’m not sure. We’d better ask Rosberg. He’s the full lock expert.


As both Raikkonen and Verstappen managed to get around the corner side by side and stay on the track I don’t see what point you are trying to make. The only contact between them was after Vettel drove into his team-mate which bounced Raikkonen into Verstappen. This damaged both cars but didn’t alter the line they were on, so yes they would have both been able to get around the corner.


I’m certainly not defending Vettel, but it is indeed convenient for Verstappen’s case that Raikkonen got bounced over. I maintain that Verstappen was headed for trouble anyway. There was a gap, it just wasn’t car-shaped or part of the course. And forgive me for trying to inject a little levity. It helps here, because this kid’s drive at Spa leaves a sickness in the pit of my belly. It’s serious stuff, but on the surface, his display is laughable. It is to be laughed at. He blows his big orange start, reverts instantly to the Playstation place in his brain… Read more »


“When there’s something the other drivers aren’t doing, because it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it will suddenly work just because you screwed up and you’re angry”

I think this summarizes it quite well.


While everyone is jumping on the Vmax bandwagen, this is exactly the type of thing I knew his inexperience would cause. So I’m my assessment of the weekend, he had no right driving up the inside into an inevitably shrinking gap OFF TRACK. This left no where for Kimi to go as Princess Seb turned in. I suspect the Princess thought that pushing Kimi wide would be no issue, as there was more than a car space between him and the wall, but didn’t think Max wouldn’t be pushing his nose in. Someone (Horner) should tell Max about the brake… Read more »

Bill Cape Coral

Max Verstrappen acts like the spoiled little child. His rich father did a very poor job of raising his spoiled brat of a son.

This child is going to get someone hurt or killed hopefully if it comes to that it will be Max Verstrappen who is the one that is hurt or killed.

What the child Max Verstrappen has yet to learn is to win races you first must finish races.

Bill Cape Coral

Proof Max “The Child” Verstrappen was wrong, his entire car is off the track, he never had a chance to complete the stupid move he was making.

Max Verstrappen needs to be taken out back and have a arse kicked.

I posted a photo showing The Child Verstrappen complete off the racing track but the photo did not post. You can see the same photo farther down this thread.

Wayne Rentoul

As Seb said, even if he gave more space, there was no way Kimi and Max were coming out the other side without making contact.
To me, it was a missed opportunity for Kimi to do one of Max’s late moves, so Max that ran into the rear of the Ferrari…

Wilco Kamminga

There are 2 WDC here in the battle, where Kimi decides to give the space to Max and Vettel decides to take a shortcut into the corner. How the hell did he become a 4 time world champion, knowing that the 1st corner @ belgiumGP is the place to wreck multiple challengers their race? Seriously? Did he forget about the past? First time around here? or just an overrated champion? (+1 for me if you ask) Come on ppl over here, are we so blind to see that Vettel just took his car around as he just wanted to have,… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

great post Todd. and i equally enjoyed all the commets everyone..

Roger Flerity

Verstappen went 4 well off on the inside after a bad start and failed to anticipate where the two cars in front of him would be in the corner. He was behind both Ferraris and could see them clearly ahead of him. He chose to drive into a hole that was closing rather than avoid a collision he should have seen coming, wrongly assuming those in front of him (who had little or no visibility of his existence) would magically move over to let him by. Dumb move… his later revenge blocking Raikonnen – reveals he does not yet have… Read more »

Van Dieu

Just as an experiment, count the number of times that VMax had all 4 wheel over the White lines on Sunday, and then draw your own conclusions..


No need to stop there. Look at all the races this season (ex. Germany where he gained a position in the process), total the occurrences and compare to the number of times such behavior caused a warning or, God forbid, a penalty.

I perfectly understand Red Bull is the second biggest spender and does additional value for Sport via promotion but things are getting ridiculous.


As JV said, if you go on the inside into apex, you are never going to make it without taking others with you. Max obviously didn’t get that Memo, or missed a day in school when that topic was discussed, and as someone very smart (I know) said, show me one single case in history of that track, when 3 cars fitted into T1 and did not crash. Simply put, it was never done in the past, and it was not going to happen last Sunday either, regardless how much venom is hurdled against Vettel. Looking at that deal in… Read more »

The Captain

I want to be a fly on the wall during the next drivers meeting so bad!


I’m a bit late to comment on this one, but I’m beginning to feel that Max was indeed promoted to F1 a year or two before he was ready. Its not that he lacks the pace or the attacking flair, what he’s missing is good judgement which can only come through experience. Why did he dive down the inside on T1? Because he was angry that the Ferraris had gotten the jump on him at the start and wanted to set it right straightaway. A more seasoned driver would have known that the inside line there was an extremely low… Read more »


Verstappen’s attitude seems a bit reminiscent of Kvyat post China, pre Russia. I understand him standing up for himself at the time but usually that kind of stance gets softened up a little after the weekend is over. Instead he is doubling down on it. If he carries this attitude forward raw talent and luck will eventually fail him and physics will take over.

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