While Max Verstappen – not for the first time – believes the stewards got it wrong, and that the time penalty meted out to him for the first lap incident with Kimi Raikkonen was not justified – the Red Bull driver suggesting the Finn was responsible – the FIA’s race director, Charlie Whiting disagrees.
“It was quite clearly a penalty because Max went off the track and rejoined the track unsafely,” said Whiting in a post-race media debrief.
“You are required to rejoin safely,” he continued, “and Kimi was there and he pushed him off the track. So I think that was a fairly straightforward one for the stewards.”
Asked about the subsequent clash with Sebastian Vettel, the Briton agreed that it was a racing incident with neither driver fully to blame.
“Seb tried to get up the inside, and it was a reasonable move,” he explained. “He got halfway alongside and Max turned in… a bit of a classic really.
“Stewards don’t normally give penalties unless they are sure that one driver was wholly or predominantly to blame,” he added. “Opinions will vary on whether there was equal blame, but certainly no driver was predominantly to blame they felt.”
When it was put to Whiting that in China Verstappen was penalised for such a move on Vettel, the Dutchman having earlier compared the two incidents, he replied: “In China he came charging down the inside into the hairpin, and almost T-boned Seb, I don’t think there was any similarity between the two.
“I haven’t had a look at the one from China,” he admitted, “but my recollection from that incident as it was a very clear case of causing a collision, and I think what Sebastian was doing was a genuine attempt to overtake. What Max was doing in China was opportunistic at best.”