Max Verstappen mocked critics of his driving when discussing Sebastian Vettel’s first-lap error in the French Grand Prix, saying the Ferrari driver should ignore comments from the media.
Vettel hit Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1 on the opening lap at Paul Ricard, giving the Mercedes driver a puncture and breaking his own front wing that left both well down the order. The German was given a five-second time penalty for the incident — something Niki Lauda said was too lenient — and went on to finish fifth, two positions ahead of Bottas.
The top three drivers were all asked for their thoughts about the severity of the penalty, and Verstappen suggested Vettel should receive similar criticism to the level he received after crashing in Monaco.
“Yeah, I think next time you see Seb you should ask him to change his style, obviously it’s not acceptable!” Verstappen said. “That’s what they said to me in the beginning of the season, I think you should do the same, and of course Seb shouldn’t do anything — he should just drive again and learn from this and go on. That’s my advice to everyone in this room.”
While his initial response had been light-hearted in tone before becoming more serious, when later asked about those comments and if he feels Vettel is treated differently to himself, Verstappen replied: “I think they shouldn’t do it [criticize] at all.
“I mean, mistakes happen in life, and it happens for the best of us as you can see today. So, to be honest, yeah: it just makes me angry because for sure it won’t be as bad on him than it was to me. And all the time they said to me that I should change my approach, and all these stupid comments, but yeah, I didn’t change a thing and now everything is going right. So mistakes happen, and it’s all right, we’re all human.
“At the end of the day they will never get the last laugh because I know what to do, but it’s just annoying.”
Lewis Hamilton went on to win after the collision directly behind him, and the new championship leader suggested Vettel’s penalty should have been big enough to prevent him beating Bottas.
“I’ve not seen it in detail but they quickly played something back there,” Hamilton said. “I saw an image of it on-screen. For me it’s disappointing because for the team we had the chance to get a one-two, and … it’s always an incredible feeling to get a one-two, that’s the ultimate goal within the team. Valtteri had really done a solid job all weekend, as he has really been doing this year.
“I mean, we’re all going into Turn 1 as hard as we could but yeah, ultimately when someone destroys your race through an error and it’s only kind-of a tap on the hand really, and just allowed to come back and still finish ahead of that person that they took out, it doesn’t weigh up, y’know?
“Ultimately, he shouldn’t really be able to finish ahead of him, because he took him out of the race. But, yeah… that’s the call they made.”