Verstappen hits out at Leclerc/Vettel decisions

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen hits out at the stewards for their treatment of Charles Leclerc/Sebastian Vettel in Japan.

Max Verstappen hits out at the stewards for their treatment of Charles Leclerc/Sebastian Vettel in Japan.

Max Verstappen lashed out at the stewards for their treatment of incidents involving Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen was forced to retire on Lap 15 after sustaining damage at the start when Leclerc hit the side of his Red Bull through Turns 1 and 2.

Leclerc would pit for a new front wing, but the stewards would initially say that no investigation into the crash was needed, before changing their mind and saying it would be investigated after the race.

Vettel meanwhile lost the lead to eventual race winner Valtteri Bottas off the line after a false start, but the stewards ruled that no further action would be taken, despite Kimi Raikkonen getting a drive-through penalty for a similar error in Russia.

The decisions coming from the stewards office left Verstappen both angry and confused.

“We had a really good start for once,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 back in the paddock.

“Then I just stayed on the outside. I felt like I was in third, but suddenly into Turn 2, Charles just drove into the side of my car.

“From my side I don’t think I could have done anything differently.

“We all know you lose downforce behind a car so that is not an excuse. He is experienced enough to know that.

“The weird thing is that the stewards don’t even initially investigate it. My whole car is destroyed, the whole side, there are just holes in the side of the car.

“Then they start to investigate but only after the race. What more should he do to get a penalty?

“I like hard racing but I don’t think this was hard racing. It was irresponsible driving.

“He had a bad start so for sure he was trying to recover places but it is still a long race.”

Leclerc wasn’t the only Ferrari driver who had drawn Verstappen’s rage.

“Then also watching the footage back from Seb’s start,” he continued.

“I mean he moves, he stops, the rules say you cannot move but it’s fine because he didn’t gain an advantage they said.

“I really don’t understand what’s going on today with the rules.”

The stewards ultimately decided to give Charles Leclerc two time penalties, the first for causing a collision and the second for refusing to pit when he clearly had a damaged car. It moved him down to P7 in the results with Daniel Ricciardo rising to P6.

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