On the one hand, aware that the likes of Max Verstappen is a role model not only for young fans of the sport but those looking to get on the motor sport ladder, F1 has to be seen not to condone the sort of antics witnessed in the aftermath of Sunday’s race.
On the other hand, yesterday, those very same antics – not to mention the on-track that preceded them – ensured that Formula One was headline news around the world, and as Bernie Ecclestone always said: ‘all publicity is good publicity’.
In his post-Brazil debrief, F1 technical boss Ross Brawn, says that he hopes both drivers have learned from Sunday’s events.
“Max vented his anger in parc ferme, making physical contact with Ocon,” said the Briton of (apologies) weighbridge-gate. “It was not an edifying sight and though understandable it was of course not justifiable.
“The incident with Ocon was a cruel moment, but in the aftermath Max showed he has made enormous progress in his career but he is still not able to manage his emotions in these situations, an essential next step. Having said that, one mustn’t forget he is still very young and while his conduct wasn’t justifiable we can all understand the frustration he felt after the incident and again at the end of the race, the outcome of which should not cancel out what was an amazing performance from the Dutchman. After all, it’s not every day you drive past two Ferraris and two Mercedes. Over the past 10 years, no-one has won the Brazilian Grand Prix from further back than the second row, but Max came very close on Sunday.
“I’m sure Max will learn from what happened and that everything that happened, including the penalty he was given, will contribute to his development as a driver and mainly as a man.”
Turning his attention to Ocon, he said: “While the Frenchman was entirely justified in trying to un-lap himself, given that he was clearly quicker at that moment, it has to be said there was no reason to take on Verstappen as though he was fighting for his first win in Formula 1. He deserved the 10-second stop and go penalty he was given.
“I don’t think that Ocon was simply thinking of trying to get in the points,” he admitted. “I believe it was more the case that he was caught up in the moment and didn’t think it through. Maybe fighting to the death with the race leader might not have been the best plan, even when that driver is one with whom you had some spirited fights in the lower formulae.
“Drivers must not forget they are role models for the fans and for youngsters who want to follow in their footsteps,” he warned. “Overall, Sunday was a lesson for both Verstappen and Ocon, one they won’t forget in a hurry. It’s just another part of their learning curve.”
However, with Verstappen admitting to Dutch TV last night that he was incensed by Ocon’s flippant attitude when he confronted him at the weighbridge – the Dutchman saying the Frenchman smiled at him – it would appear the lesson has not been entirely learned.