SAO PAULO, Brazil — After labelling Esteban Ocon a “f—ing idiot” following their controversial collision at the Brazilian Grand Prix, a furious Max Verstappen repeatedly shoved the Force India driver after the race.
Verstappen appeared to be cruising to a victory at Interlagos when he collided with the Force India at the start of lap 44.
Having been lapped, Ocon attempted to overtake the race leader again at the entry to the first corner. Verstappen maintained the inside line and they tangled on the exit of the corner, sending both men spinning off the circuit. They both got going again, but only after Hamilton had reclaimed the lead — Verstappen waved his middle finger at the Force India driver as he drove back onto the track.
He then opened his radio channel to say: “What a f—ing idiot!”
After finishing second behind Lewis Hamilton in the race, Verstappen’s race engineer said “I don’t know what to say”.
The Dutchman replied: “I know what to say. I hope I can’t find him in the paddock now because then he’s [censored by F1 broadcast].”
As it turned out, the pair met at the weighing scales immediately after the race. Verstappen was seen squaring up to Ocon and then pushed the Force India driver three times, forcing him off the scales. Ocon appeared to look around for assistance before Verstappen pushed him again, before walking away to take part in the F1 podium ceremony. Both drivers have been called to the race stewards as a result of the altercation and face an alleged breach of Article 12.1.1.c) of the FIA International Sporting Code which prohibits an “act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.
It was a disappointing end to what had been a super performance from Verstappen. He had dispatched Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel with fine moves at Turn 1 early in the race, before getting past Valtteri Bottas. As Mercedes pitted race leader Lewis Hamilton early, Verstappen extended his opening stint on the super-soft tyre.
He emerged from his pit-stop just behind Hamilton, but soon used his huge tyre advantage to pass the 2018 world champion. From that point Red Bull told him to turn down the engine and just bring the car home, which he appeared set to do until the incident with the Force India.
Ocon was handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for the incident, the most severe punishment a driver can get before being disqualified on the spot.
Force India boss Otmar Szafnauer criticised the decision, telling Sky Sports: “It’s a big penalty and I completely disagree. You are allowed to unlap yourself and Verstappen didn’t leave him any room, so I totally disagree.”
Ironically, the last time a backmarker collided with a race leader was when Jos Verstappen — Max’s father — hit Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya in the closing stages of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix. That incident occurred at the following corner at Interlagos to where Ocon and Verstappen collided.