Max Verstappen says Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel would have passed him sooner than Valtteri Bottas during the fight that ultimately saw him receive a penalty in the Italian Grand Prix.
Battling over third place in the closing stages of the race, Bottas attempted to pass Verstappen down the outside into the first chicane, but the Red Bull driver moved over slightly too far in defense and they touched wheels (pictured). The contact forced Bottas to skip the chicane and Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty for causing a collision. While the Dutchman says he would have defended in the same way against Hamilton or Vettel, he believes either would have overtaken him earlier.
“He always does that [hesitates],” Verstappen said of Bottas. “I know that. Hamilton or Vettel would have passed me sooner. They’re just quicker and better than Bottas. Yes, they are simply better!
“Bottas never got closer to me, so even without that penalty I could have stayed in P3. I was never never going to let him pass and settle for fourth or fifth — as that’s where we’re supposed to be on current pace.”
Verstappen still disagrees with the penalty he was given, because he feels it is inconsistent with incidents that saw heavier contact between drivers in the same race.
“I was just defending my position. Got caught up in that situation because we were losing on the straights, that’s basically it. We were never expecting to be there anyway.
“I’m not angry — P5 was where we were expecting to be, realistically speaking. We were closer than expected.
“I think we should be able to race hard, not get penalties for just the slightest touch. It’s too extreme. This is just an example. There have been other cases of two cars touching without a penalty. It’s a bit random.”
While Verstappen doesn’t believe he received the penalty as a result of his reputation for aggressive defending against other drivers, he also says Bottas would not have received the same penalty if the roles were reversed.
“We were just lacking on the straight so we ended up in this position. This doesn’t happen to him.
“I don’t think [Bottas would have been penalized]. It depends — on who is stewarding the race.”
Additional reporting by Joe van Burik