Max Verstappen describes his Japanese Grand Prix penalty for the way he rejoined the track in front of Kimi Raikkonen as “really ridiculous” and feels his collision with Sebastian Vettel was the German’s fault.
The FIA gave Verstappen a five-second time penalty for not returning to the track in a safe manner after running wide at the chicane, with the Red Bull driver bouncing across the curb and forcing Kimi Raikkonen off track as a result. He was then later hit by Vettel — who spun — at Spoon, and third-placed Verstappen is not happy about both incidents.
“I braked a little bit too late into the chicane, so I did everything I could to get back onto the track and I think I did it in a safe way, because I was not crazy-fast onto the track,” Verstappen said. “But Kimi chose the wrong line in the chicane — he could have also just waited for me to come back on the track. We touched a little bit but I think it’s really ridiculous, those five seconds.
“But anyway, we managed to survive that and then even before the pit stop, the touch with Sebastian — in that corner you can’t overtake. I even gave him space, but he understeered into my car. It’s a shame, but still happy to be on the podium.”
No further action was taken regarding the collision with Vettel and Verstappen likened the clash to an incident in China earlier this season that saw both drivers spin when he tried to overtake the Ferrari.
“I’m not the one who makes the rules, I think otherwise a lot of penalties would have been avoided in Formula 1! I think it’s a similar scenario to what I had in China with him. Of course, we didn’t spin off the track but he drove into the side of my car. I think we could have been a bit more careful.”
The contact left Verstappen with a damaged floor but the Red Bull driver doesn’t believe the damage had a significant impact on the final result as he put pressure on Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages.
“We didn’t really have a chance, but in general I think to nurse the car home with the damage I had on the floor, we did a great job. The strategy initially was a bit tricky, with the supersoft tires, but then once we got the soft tires on it was actually working really well, and you could see that near the end we had the pace, even with the damage, so I’m happy about that.”