Max Verstappen needs to learn to manage his emotions during frustrating times if he wants to become world champion, according to Ross Brawn.
Contact with backmarker Esteban Ocon during the Brazilian Grand Prix cost Verstappen a likely victory and led to an angry confrontation after the race. Verstappen approached Ocon — who was given a ten-second stop and go penalty for the collision — and repeatedly pushed the Force India driver, earning himself two days of public service after an FIA hearing. F1’s managing director of motorsport Brawn says Verstappen needs to be able to curb such behavior in order to develop further.
“The collision with Esteban Ocon came when the Frenchman was trying to unlap himself immediately after his pit stop and it cost Max dearly, sending him into a spin and leaving the door open for Hamilton,” Brawn said. “The Dutchman’s push in the closing stages was not enough to retake the lead and after that, Max vented his anger in parc ferme, making physical contact with Ocon. 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 that although he has made enormous progress in his career 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.
“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.”
However, Brawn was keen to point out he felt Ocon was at fault for the on-track collision and that both young drivers will learn from the incident.
“While the Frenchman was entirely justified in wanting to un-lap himself, given that he was clearly quicker at that moment, it has to be said there was no reason for him 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 in the race. Drivers must not forget they are role models for the fans and for youngsters who want to follow in their footsteps.
“I don’t think that Ocon, when he attacked Max during the race, was simply thinking of trying to get in the points. 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.
“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.”