Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen spent the first day of his public service punishment “observing stewards” at the second round of the Formula E championship, the Marrakesh ePrix, the FIA have confirmed.
A combative Brazilian Grand Prix involved race-leader Verstappen and the backmarker Force India of Esteban Ocon colliding mid-race, which resulted in a heated exchange of words between the pair after the race.
Verstappen was filmed shoving Ocon in the FIA weighbridge garage, something which the stewards deemed as a breach of the sporting code and they handed the Dutchman a punishment of “two days of public service”.
He was spotted attending the Marrakesh ePrix – won by ex-F1 driver Jerome D’Ambrosio – with the FIA later confirming that he was serving the first of his two public service days “as an observer to the stewards”.
The statement by the FIA read:
“Max Verstappen attended the Marrakesh E-Prix as a result of the Stewards’ decision at the 2018 Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix. Verstappen spent the day as an observer to the stewards, closely following their work at a top-level international motor sport event as part of the educational and informative approach taken by the FIA in this matter.”
With Verstappen very unlikely to be critical of either the punishment or the series, he said that his day in Marrakesh had been “constructive” and that Formula E was a “cool series”.
“It’s interesting to see it from the other side – normally you can’t spend an entire day with the stewards! Everybody does their own job during the weekend, and it’s good to really see what it takes to make these important decisions – sometimes a decision might not be nice for a certain person but it has to be taken and you have to follow the rules.
“I think it’s good to experience different things in racing rather than just sitting in the car – to be here and do this kind of work has been a constructive thing for me.
“I’ve of course followed Formula E a bit on TV but I’ve never been in the paddock, and I really enjoyed the day. First of all it was a really exciting race. The championship is clearly growing and there are a lot of manufacturers here, so I think it’s a cool series.”
Verstappen’s punishment criticised by Bird
The move to bring Verstappen to a Formula E race has been criticised by series front-runner Sam Bird, with the Briton saying that he didn’t think it was fair on the growing championship.
“I didn’t see him. It’s nice that he’s here. I mean, to call coming to a Formula E race ‘community service’ I think does Formula E a bit of a dis-justice. This is an amazing category and people pay to come and watch us.
“It shouldn’t be a punishment to come here. I hope he enjoyed it, and I hope he will give good feedback to some of his colleagues”
Verstappen still has one day of public service remaining, but the FIA are yet to confirm when or where this will be completed.
With his punishment to be completed “within a six month period”, his second day should have been carried out by around April. However, Verstappen will likely complete the second day before the start of the Formula One season in March.
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images