Max Verstappen was unhappy with the stewards’ decisions during the Japanese Grand Prix and labelled Charles Leclerc’s driving as “irresponsible” after their collision.
Leclerc had started on the front row alongside team-mate Sebastian Vettel but the pair were down to second and third before Turn 1 as Valtteri Bottas took the lead. Verstappen was attempting to go around the outside of Leclerc through the first two corners but the Ferrari slid wide and hit Verstappen, damaging his car and forcing him to retire shortly afterwards.
“We had a really good start for once, so that was the positive and then I just stayed on the outside,” Verstappen explained. “I felt like I was in third and then suddenly at Turn 2 Charles just drove into the side of my car. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different there.
“We all know that you lose downforce behind other cars, so that is not an excuse and I think he is experienced enough to know that. The weird thing for me is that initially they don’t even investigate it, and my whole car is destroyed. There are just holes in the side of the car.
“Then they started to investigate it but after the race. I mean, what more should he do to get a penalty? I like hard racing but I don’t think this was hard racing, this was just irresponsible driving into Turn 2. They had a bad start so for sure he was just trying to recover places but there’s only as much as you can do and it’s still a very long race. It’s a shame that it happened.”
Leclerc was handed a five-second time penalty for the collision after the race, but a different incident involving the other Ferrari driver also left Verstappen annoyed.
“Also, just watching the footage back from Seb’s start, he moves and then he stops, the rules say you cannot move, and that’s fine because he didn’t gain an advantage they said. So, I really don’t understand what’s going on with the rules.”
The stewards decision regarding Vettel’s start stated the movement did not trigger the false start sensor on the grid, and therefore did not constitute a false start based on how such incidents are measured.