Max Verstappen concerned about race bans


Max Verstappen has criticised the current driver penalty point system which could see him banned from driving for a race should he repeatedly incur the wrath of the stewards. Following the ‘near decapitation’ of Fernando Alonso by Romain Grosjean at the Belgium Grand Prix in 2012, a system of penalty points for the F1 drivers’ was eventually designed in an attempt to make the more reckless think twice.

The stewards can now award penalty points to drivers whose conduct is deemed to be beyond the pale, and should a driver accumulate 12 points within a 12 month period, they will now be banned for the following race.

The last driver to suffer an F1 race ban was Romain Grosjean following his alleged attempts to make his Lotus a flying machine in Spa Francorchamps in 2012, though this was prior to the new points totting up system now in place. A number of F1’s hierarchy felt this decision was maybe too harsh, and the power of the stewards to inflict such a headline penalty should be made more incremental.

F1’s new superstar driver, Max Verstappen, however believes the current regulations are wrong. “It’s a shame, they shouldn’t stop us from racing. I can’t change it now but definitely I have to be a bit more careful”. Max is clearly concerned because he’s racked up 8 penalty points during his rookie season in 2015.

The first 2 points awarded to the Dutchman was following an incident where his Toro Rosso mounted the rear of the aforementioned Romain Grosjean’s Lotus in Monaco. This is something his elders and betters have done before; ask Mark Webber about his 200mph rear end shunt with Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia. Yet the two penalty points Max was for his ‘carelessness’, was not adjudged too punitive on the whole.

Verstappen is though concerned that the current punishments for this kind of behaviour may inhibit his and other drivers’ racing ambitions. “I don’t think that is what the fans want to see, that I have to back off when I want to overtake because I’m scared to touch someone. We have to maybe revise the system a bit but it’s not up to me”.

The young Dutch driver completed more racing overtakes in 2015 than any other driver, his tally of 49 is stark by comparison to the statistic which shows the average number of passes per F1 driver in 2015 at 26.8.

In fact Max cleaned up at the FIA’s end of season gala, picking up 3 awards for rookie of the year, personality of the year and best action of the year. The latter was for his breath-taking, around the outside pas on Felipe Nasr through the high-speed Blanchimont corner of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. This was part of a drive that saw the Toro Rosso driver advance from 15th place on the starting grid to an eighth-place points finish in the race.

Yet despite the FIA accolades, Verstappen feels the current penalty point system should be scrapped. “Maybe they should do it in a different way rather than penalty points and eventually a race ban,” he says. “They should come up with a fine or whatever. That is also painful but it’s different than a race ban, because it’s really bad for you career if you get a race ban.”

Indeed, Verstappen must avoid being awarded 4 more points in the 2016 five opening races before Monaco to ensure he does not receive a race ban, which is clearly on his mind. “Definitely the first few races [of 2016] I have to be careful,” he said. “Maybe when you want to try a risky move when maybe you’re touching someone, I can’t so it’s a shame, but I will try to overtake people anyway.”

Perversely, this mindset of Max does in fact suggest that whilst the FIA receives criticism for much they turn their hand too, their driver penalty point system is working as intended. There was much talk in previous seasons of GP2 style driving being inappropriate and dangerous in Formula One, so the FIA regulation for driver penalty points for now is ensuring that the new drivers in Formula One, treat the races with respect and don’t turn the events into a demolition derby.

To avoid being banned, Verstappen simply has to repeat his start to the 2015 season, which saw him keep a clean nose with the stewards until his Monaco moment of madness.

Max Verstappen’s misdemeanours and driver penalty points

  • Monaco, caused an incident, 5 place grid drop, 2 penalty points
  • Hungary, safety car speeding, drive through penalty, 3 penalty points
  • Abu Dhabi, left the track and gained an advantage, 5 second penalty, 1 penalty point
  • Abu Dhabi, ignored blue flags, drive through penalty, 2 penalty points

Other Verstappen stewards rulings

  • Great Britain, left the track during qualifying, time deleted
  • Hungary, involved in an incident with Bottas, no action taken
  • Hungary, left the track gained an advantage over Bottas, no action taken
  • Italy, unsafe release, drive through penalty
  • Japan, stopped on the racing line, 3 place grid drop
  • Mexico, exceeded the maximum permitted time between the two safety car lines during qualifying, no action taken
(Technical infringements for engine/gearbox etc regulations breaches not included)

18 responses to “Max Verstappen concerned about race bans

  1. Oh cmon that wasn’t breathtaking. First of all the passing is done when blanchiment is done. It’s the breaking zone for the bus stop chicane. Nothing unusual. Secondly he leaves the track. And third vettel did it on Rosberg in 2013 and nobody mentioned it. And he did it IN blanchiment. WITHOUT leaving the track.

    • It was breathtaking. Just as it was when Vettel did it. But indeed, he left the track. However if the stewards choose to not punish someone, it’s allright. That is with all sports: the referee decides.

    • Funny to see that the boy gets lauded by team managers and F1 pundits from all over the world for his performances in general and the blanchimont overtake in particular, while ‘the real experts’ on this and other forums convulsively try to play down Max’s achievements …

  2. – The Monaco incident. Well some penalty was in place.
    – Hungary safety car speeding. A safetycar situation (or any yellow flag situation), should be somewhat ‘sacred’ and enforced fiercely. But if I’m right this safety car speeding thing was (partly) his teams fault. 3 Points for a situation where carelessness by the driver was Not the issue ?…
    – Abu Dhabi. Well only one penalty point and 5 sec. Those 5 seconds weren’t much of a problem as it was a McHonda he overtook. This case is perhaps the best example for Max’s position: At least he tried and he managed to avoid contact.
    – Two penalty points for a blue flag infringement, where the ‘victim’ did not suffer even a tenth in laptime, is a bit harsh.

    About other steward rulings. I thought one was innocent until proven guilty. If the stewards did not take action, the alleged offence was never committed. So why mention it?

  3. His team mate forces one after another off the track, gains huge amounts of advantages by cutting tracks and has zero penalty points, and him being the most clean one with overtaking has the biggest amount of penalty points…yep, the system is clearly working.

  4. As you point out, the regulation has exactly its intended effect – and does not seem unduly to have inhibited young Max V’s buccaneering instincts.
    His argument boils down to ‘I should be allowed to hit people more’, which is just silly.

    Consistent implementation is a quite separate (though nonetheless important) argument.

    • You make it sound like he has been hitting drivers left and right on the track all season long. Shouldn’t Button, Alonso, Ricciardo and Perez, to name a few, also not be on a similar amount of penalty points if they were given only for that ?

      Sainz cuts the chicane at Monza and gains way more advantage as Verstappen did in Abu Dhabi, and goes off track in Singapore overtaking Grosjean and gets zero points, while Verstappen gets points for way lesser things…let’s face it, he got points because of his age…I have never seen a sport where they give athletes penalties for being young…F1 is making a fool out of itself by doing so.

      • Absolutely not – my point is that he hasn’t been hitting other drivers left right & centre… and has pulled off spectacular moves.

        So the balance seems just about right.

        And again, as I said, consistency of application is quite another matter.

    • Are we on a children’s birthday party ore are we racing. This stupid penalty-system ruing the basics of racing in the first place. If the stewards of the race find some one take to much risk ore make a fold, give the penalty to the team and take points from the team’s champion points instead. So the team could blame the driver (ore not) and handle the problem in there own ranks.

  5. Verstrappon is without doubt going to be ( to some extent already is) a great driver. The only thing I could be critical of, is the comment he made about Grosjean brake testing him at Monaco. That to me must be the bellend comment of the year.

      • That’s bollocks! He was told that Grosjean was having braking issues, so should’ve taken that into consideration. And by the way let’s not forget that he also ran into the back of Pastor as well, even after he was told Pastor was having problems due to damage to his car.

  6. What is interesting here is the double-standard being applied for Verstappen. As much as I am an advocate for his on-track youthful exuberance, I despise the fact that he continues to – how do you English people say it – “whinge” like a recalcitrant child about matters in which he is judged to be at fault.

    We’ve seen drivers attempt ridiculous and unthinking stunts in F3 and GP2 the last couple of seasons, the kind that mire a race in yellows and first corner caused restarts. As a result it appears that the stewards have been told to or have taken it upon themselves to more closely scrutinize drivers who comes from those lower rungs straight into F1 without requisite time around the Big Boy garage.

    Young Max, from day one acted as if his F1 seat was the direct result of his being the top dog in the minor leagues; acted like he was owed… something. The fact of the matter is, his paymasters at Red Bull chose him to make a splash for —- Red Bull. The “fizzy drink” – so monikered here – corporation knows well that, the myth of, singular precocious youth talented beyond his years (aren’t most intelligent young people precocious beyond their years???), gets attention from unexpected media corners – earning your stripes be damned. And as astute watchers of F1 know, RB is quite openly all about themselves, even if it is to the detriment of the environment in which they are participating and, ultimately, to themselves.

    So, one of the long list of heinous and unrepentant corporations – for those who don’t know, a substantial panel of psychologists judged the entities called, “corporations,” to be, if they were humans, (legally they are deemed so), psychopathic, with no exceptions – judges that to get more eyeballs on it and its product, to, hopefully, get youths to flock to their product in even larger numbers, they elevated Young Max to the position Formula One driver. On top of that RB made him the de facto number one driver on his team, despite being paired with another young driver – Carlos Sainz – with more on track achievements who is his senior, and who, through upbringing, partially through experience in and around motor racing, and who definitely through an understanding of place, despite being, himself, precocious.

    Sainz, the more publicly mature of the RB-Toro Rosso driving pair, is the far better driver to represent Red Bull to corporate sponsors yet it is Max Verstappen who was gifted with being the team “#1”. As we know at at both Ferrari and Mercedes, and to an extent even at McLaren, the corporate function “golden cow” is the driver who is perceived to be an older version of Sainz. Even if we debate the actuality of maturity with those choices, the fact that they are perceived to be so is all that really matters to the corporation —– and to scads of the Western Cultured global audience so influenced by corporate behaviors.

    Why, then, is Max Verstappen, the opposite of most of what the 21st century F1 driver is said to “need” to be, not roundly chastised for his utter failure to understand the very parts of outward-appearing personality traits lauded at every turn with other F1 drivers? He is not humble. He is not introspective. He, most often, does not accept fault for workplace actions perceived and deemed to be negative. He does not understand place, his or anyone else’s in F1; he doesn’t even understand he is not yet close to being as versed at his craft as the top drivers. He is often not eloquent; more rash, brash and prone to fits of emotion that manifest themselves in his speech, rather than thought.

    Even with some distance from the 2015 F1 season are we, largely, still under this Formula One version of, The Young Rockstar myth? Or does the possibility exist, and the above article is an attempt at such, that Max Verstappen be perceived for what he is, which is a very talented young F1 driver, who, until he becomes more measured in his approach to life, more capable of true introspection and, capable extricating himself from his father’s large shadow (over his son, not a former F1 racer’s shadow)?

    Can F1 watchers reject the machinations of a fawning F1 media that has already judged Max Verstappen as a great driver and has already crowned him as the “true” successor to Ayrton Senna? We’ll see.

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