Verstappen blocking ‘outrageous’

Stefan Johansson

Stefan Johansson has hit out at Max on his US NBC blog yesterday declaring that ‘its outrageous that no penalty was handed out’ for the young Red Bull driver at Spa last weekend.

The ex McLaren and Ferrari F1 driver wasn’t impressed by the amount of controversial incidents that surrounded Verstappen on Sunday.

“He blew it at the start effectively, he got passed by the two Ferrari’s going into Turn 1 and then tried to recover by a very, very low-percentage move on the inside that had virtually no chance of succeeding.

I have to say, I thought it was a bit rich for Verstappen to blame the Ferrari guys for ruining his race.”

Perhaps young Max doesn’t know his history of Spa? Turn 1 at Le Source is a magnet for incident, demonstrated as recently as 2012 with a Grosjean caused incident which could’ve cost Alonso his life. Romain Grosjean moved in the braking zone (sound familiar?), not keeping to his line and was penalised by the race stewards for the crash. A subsequent race ban followed, resulting in the Frenchman missing the Italian GP.

TJ13 reported last year on Max’s criticism of the driver penalty points system that was put in place after Spa 2012 believing 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 was clearly concerned racking up 8 penalty points during his rookie season in 2015.

On the subject of blocking, Steffan continues is analysis declaring – ““For me the worst part is [Max’s] blocking.

“It’s outrageous that no penalty was handed out this time. At what point do you draw the line? If a driver has to hit the brakes on a straight to avoid contact something is clearly wrong.

this is typical of the new generation of open wheel racers. They think this is completely normal it seems – like it’s ok to completely turn into someone when they’re coming alongside on a straight. The fact that this is their mindset is sad.”

“If you have to brake because someone’s blocking you on the straight then something’s fundamentally wrong, especially when they stewards let you get away with it.”

To conclude, the Swedish driver praised Lewis and Fernando for their exemplary and fair driving declaring that they are “the best two modern day racers able to race clean and fair up front.”.

With 12 podium finishes to his name, Stefan Johansson raced in F1 from 1980 to 1991 for both Ferrari McLaren. Shadow, Tyrrell, Ligier and Toleman are notable ex teams the Swede raced for during his career.

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19 responses to “Verstappen blocking ‘outrageous’

  1. “At what point do you draw the line? If a driver has to hit the brakes on a straight to avoid contact something is clearly wrong.” – Stefan Johansson

    In my opinion, the matter boils down to this snippet from Stefan.

    You know, I like it hard and fast just like anyone else… wait, no. Let me rephrase that.

    *Clears throat*

    You know, I’m a fan of hard racing and have raced (mainly open-wheelers) myself, as some of you might know. As I see it, T1 is T1. Shit happens. Wasn’t great and, yes, it was a “low percentage move” – but the core issue is the shenanigans on Kemmel.

    Without turning this into an alpha-male pissing contest – and taking into consideration frustrations from previous rounds – had I been Kimi, I’d have either 1) Punted/edged Max off mid-corner in one of the slower corners, or 2) Continually shoved the dude after the race until he swung first.

    I know I’d have done this because, in fact, I’ve done both 1 and 2 in my day AND (more importantly) had both 1 and 2 done to me.

    “Yeah. But that’s in various Aussie racing championships.” True, and yes, F1 has become less confrontational, but, I tell you here and now: taking Hungary into account, that’d have been it for me as youngster in Kimi’s position.

    *Pissing-contest mode off*

    I’m not sure people quite comprehend the forces and energy at play when an open-wheeler is at full tilt down a straight. Touch, even slightly, and it ain’t pleasant. Mid-corner, apex-fighting games are one thing. Touching and shoving in slower twisties; to each their own. But (entry) brake-zone shifting, and mucking about at over 340 clicks down a straight in an F1 car with super-close, non-tilkered barriers? Nope. We all want to go home after the race.

    And yet… no penalty? That was odd to me. Perhaps it was right on the edge per the letter of the law, but in those circumstances drivers have to hope for more than letter-of-the-law attitudes in rivals at peak speed, top gear, flying down straights.

    “At what point do you draw the line? If a driver has to hit the brakes on a straight to avoid contact something is clearly wrong.”

    Agreed, Stefan. Agreed.

    • And for those of you who have never been to spa, an airborne car there with that speed can, disintegrated or not, hit spectators. And if I saw it correctly most of them sitting there were max fans. Can you imagine what that would have done to that country and this young man and his career? Because clearly he can’t. In this case ignorance isn’t bliss… people dying isn’t funny. Certainly not because of arrogance

    • I agree entirely. It seems as though we are witnessing the second coming of a deity! I got the impression that Kimi’s main beef iis that due to DRS the speed differential is probably higher than previously and if a late change of tack is made by the car in front there is a smaller margin of error. It is ironic tbat Mr Whiting has apparently “had a word” with the young man at Monza but no one was prepared to say a dickie bird whe he was on home turf last week. Inividual bigger than sport? There may be PHD thesis to write on this one.

  2. I remember when Senna took Schumacher aside when MSC was causing troubles for others with his driving style. I’m kind of surprised that Alonso, Vettel or Räikkönen have not done the same with young Max VerStopBlocking.

    • Yes, you’re right, Andy.

      Speaking of Schumacher, and while I’m at it, I’ve seen a false equivalency doing the rounds vis-à-vis Schumacher’s move on Hakkinen at Spa in 2000 – also on Kemmel.

      I’m a Schumacher (and Hakkinen) fan, but, if you look carefully at the various video overlaps online, you’ll see the following.

      1) Schumaher moves first. It’s subtle, but he moves first. Hakkinen moves immediately after, perhaps having put thought into action half a second later. The speed of their moves differ with Mika “flicking” faster; but Michael moves first.

      Verstappen doesn’t do this. He reacts after hovering in front of Raikkonen. He moves after Kimi moves.

      2) Schumacher actually leaves space. Hakkinen, it appears, pulls out of the move not fully knowing IF Schumacher would keep closing.

      Max doesn’t leave space at all. He moves all the way to the edge of the track after reacting to Kimi thus forcing Kimi to properly brake (on a straight).

      3) Context: Aside from point 1 and 2, the Schumacher / Hakkinen move was for the win and for the world title lead.

      4) Context: It was a different time in racing. No DRS, as an example.

      All that being said, I’m not saying Schumacher was completely appropriate in his move. I think that move wasn’t ideal, but it was certainly not what Verstappen did to Raikkonen if you carefully look at the video a few times.

      So, the “Schumacher did it and he’s a 7-time WDC” argument doesn’t wash, as I see it.

      Also, I was quite happy when Hakkinen owned Schumacher a lap later. After that race, Schumacher and Hakkinen could be seen in parc fermé actually discussing the move at length with various hand gestures. Years later, Hakkinen would reveal that Schumacher privately conceded the point before the post-race conference.

      You can see it reflected in their mannerisms in the post-race press conference. Look it up; it’s rare to see a sheepish Schumacher.

        • Probably wanted to avoid having to lamp the guy who was wandering around calling him a liar to all & sundry. I’m not a particular Raikkonen fan, but he does seem to be a decent guy.

    • The most effective form of taking another driver aside was exemplified when James Hunt had a few ‘words’ with David Morgan at Crystal Palace a few years ago. Mind you didn’t Kimi say that someone needed to punch Perez in the face a couple of years back – Kimi always was a big Hunt admirer of course!

  3. With all respect, brake zone shifting is part of racing … both in attacking and defending mode … so is overtaking on lines that other drivers avoid. As a spectator I would like to see the best driver-car (in that order) combination to win and not just the fastest car. Okay we would like to see all drivers to join their families after the race (in good health) but this is F1 racing … and that is dangerous by default. Don’t race if you find it dangerous I would say.

    • What if you sit in the grandstand and get hit by a piece of car because of a stupid move? Racing is dangerous yes. For everyone involved. That doesn’t mean someone has to make it more dangerous.

      • So it is more dangerous with Max on the track? Maybe it is … and also far more entertaining. All drivers make questionable moves so now and then. If Spa is a potential safety hazard for spectators then F1 should not be racing there.

        • I think every track is if a collision happens at 350kph. Things brake. Things get airborne. And one thing is for sure, what goes up must come down.

  4. Stefan’s stronger point was a re-iteration of the need for (at least one) permanent steward.
    What is/isn’t acceptable at the margin is quite nuanced, and getting a different interpretation every weekend gives extremely mixed message to drivers, particularly ones with limited F1 experience.

    Where you draw the line on defensive moves at very high speeds (for example) is something drivers ought to have a consensus on, if only on safety grounds. At the moment they don’t, and Max can say – “no penalty, so no problem”, for behaviour which has attracted sanction at other times.

    • Good point re: permanent steward(s).

      Throw Jonsey a quarter of a mill and pay for his flights and accom.

      Just make sure he pays for his own food! 🙂

  5. Q: The Max Verstappen/Kimi Raikkonen scrap at Spa is still a hot topic here. Do you have a particular opinion on it – or on defensive driving in general?

    LH: I do not have any opinion on that, as it has got nothing to do with me! I try not to get involved in other people’s business. Max is a quick and fast driver and he is learning. He is only 18 years old. Most of us at the age of 18 did some silly things too, I am sure of that (laughs). He already has a Grand Prix win under his belt and he is an exceptional driver. This is what I see.

  6. I think what Max did was acceptable, as was determined by the independent stewards. I would penalise Rosberg for running Hamilton off the road onto the grass and Rosberg for driving straight ahead leaving no track for Hamilton on the outside; Vettel for not leaving racing room at Spa; Vettel for numerous other incidents of unsportsmanlike blocking.

    In sport, one has to abide by the decisions of the independent umpire.

    Go Max!

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