Max Verstappen has again courted controversy, saying he would sack any driver not willing to race after watching Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash.
Grosjean miraculously survived when he crashed at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, spearing into the Turn 3 barrier.
The Frenchman’s car was split in half by the impact with the guardrail and burst into flames.
Footage of Grosjean climbing out of the fireball was shown throughout the hour and a half that it took for the barrier to be replaced with temporary concrete blocks, and all the while the Formula 1 drivers waiting for the restart watched it on TV.
It posed the question whether any team boss would give its drivers the OK not to restart the race with Mercedes saying they would have withdrawn if Grosjean’s injuries, thankfully just minor burns, had been more severe.
Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen, first and second at the chequered flag, were asked if the drivers should have been given the option not to race.
Hamilton replied: “I don’t think so, we’re not the safety regulators.
“We’re here to do a job and we rely on the FIA who are aware of safety and we trust them implicitly so no, I do not think so.”
Verstappen’s reply was a lot harsher.
“We’d be the team boss, I would kick him out of the seat,” said the Red Bull driver.
“If the guy wouldn’t race and I would be the team boss, I would tell him then you never sit in the seat again. Yeah.”
Hamilton told Verstappen that he felt “sorry for anyone who is going to be your driver in the future.”
This is just ASTONISHING. Only just seen the helicopter footage of Romain Grosjean's crash today, and the actions of the marshal who saved his life. Thankfully see @RGrosjean TL for good news on relatively minor injuries. Incredible.pic.twitter.com/PoGNegedvv
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) November 29, 2020
Verstappen, though, could be given a bit of leeway in his answer given that back in 1994 it was his father, Jos, who was engulfed in a fireball when his Benetton caught fire at the German Grand Prix.
Verstappen is just grateful that like his father, Grosjean lived to tell the tale.
“Of course that was a crazy incident,” he said of the Haas driver’s crash.
“When I saw the flames, that was pretty scary to watch but luckily of course he jumped out of the car himself and that was the most important. You can really see the safety, how much it has improved.
“I think also the Halo today saved his life. In the beginning when it came onto the cars I was quite critical about it, that it looked ugly but you can’t say anything about the safety because today it definitely saved Romain, so very happy about that.
“Thoughts are with him and, of course, his family as well because they are watching in front of TV and that’s never nice. So I hope that he will recover very soon and he will be back with us.”