The Brazilian Grand Prix appeared to have been Verstappen’s win, the young Dutchman looked set to take victory in Sao Paulo over 5 time Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Sky Sports F1 analysis of the incident in Brazil
But during a critical point of the race when the Red Bull Racing driver was leading, back marker and Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon tried in vein to unlap himself and pass Max Verstappen.
The inevitable happened, with Verstappen showing his intention at turn 1 not to allow the Force India driver through, Ocon pressed ahead with his attempt to pass Verstappen into turn 2 and contact was made, resulting in Verstappen spinning off and thus losing the lead back to Mercede’s Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen: "I was just trying to do my race and then a back marker takes a stupid risk. I lost a victory but hopefully in 15 years' time we can laugh about it.”
— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) November 11, 2018
Verstappen gave no quarter, and neither did Ocon. Verstappen perhaps should’ve given room to Ocon as it wasn’t a fight he needed to be involved with. Many would say that this proves that Verstappen is hot headed…arrogant…foolish. And perhaps this is true, but also Ocon is driving to save his career in F1, and with Mercedes.
Verstappen swears live on global TV
Let’s be honest, Hamilton wouldn’t have pressed Ocon hard there had the roles been reversed and Ocon was trying to pass Hamilton, given the space there instead of risking it. But would Ocon have pulled the same trick if it was Lewis? Unlikely.
Szafnauer, team boss of Force India refutes any Ocon Mercedes claims saying: “That’s a conspiracy theory and I doubt a racing driver is thinking about his drive for 2020 with what he does today. Absolutely not,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports F1. “Esteban came on the radio and said can I unlap myself because I am quicker and we said yes go ahead. That’s it.”
It is interesting fact that Force India wish to continue their Mercedes engine deal for 2019.
Red Bull’s Horner wades in…
So really the conclusion is, Mercedes driver Esteban Ocon pulled a move on a car that was beating the lead Mercedes car of Hamilton, pure and simple. A role similarly played by Toro Rosso back when Sebastian Vettel was winning an awful lot between 2010 and 2013.
Karma’s a bitch huh?
Despite the details of the incident, one does have to question Verstappen’s critical decision making capabilities at times like this. Not something that’ll win many World Drivers Championships.
Verstappen and Ocon called to stewards after the race
So it appears that Verstappen & Ocon have been called to the stewards. Alleged breach of Article 12.1.1.c) of the FIA International Sporting Code, “act prejudicial to the interests of any Competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”, physical contact with another competitor in FIA garage.
— Maxime. (@MaximeB123) November 11, 2018
Speaking about the incident, and how the FIA had to intervene to prevent the fight escalating, Ocon told TV reporters: “What I am really surprised about is the behaviour of Max coming into the scales.
“The FIA having to stop him from being violent, pushing me and wanted me to punch me – and that is not professional.”
Asked by Sky if he planned to speak to Verstappen later, Ocon said: “I am used to the fights with Max. It has been the same. It goes back a few years, so no.”
“I was two laps behind Max,” Ocon said. “The first lap I was a lot faster and the second lap I was a lot faster.
“I had fresh tyres basically and the rules say you are allowed to unlap yourself if you are faster, and that is what I did on the second lap because I had massive pace.
“I went around the outside of him, the same move I did on Fernando [Alonso], the same move I did on many other drivers, coming from last on the first lap. But it didn’t happen the same way in the corner after that.”