Max a ‘bad sportsman’ for skipping podium celebration

Walking off the podium without joining Lewis Hamilton in the post-race celebrations, Max Verstappen says without proper champagne it “wasn’t fun”.

For the third race in succession, Verstappen finished runner-up to Hamilton, P2 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

It was a testy one at that with the title rivals racing wheel-to-wheel, forcing each other off the track and even colliding.

Verstappen was given two time penalties for his part in all of that – a five-second penalty for gaining an advantage off the track and, after the race, another 10-second penalty for erratic driving.

That penalty related to his lap 37 collision with Hamilton, the Briton having accused the Dutchman of brake-testing him and calling him “f***ing crazy”.

The stewards agreed, stating “the sudden braking by the driver of Car 33 was determined by the stewards to be erratic, hence the predominant cause of the collision and hence the standard penalty of 10 seconds for this type of incident is imposed”.

The post-race penalty did not change the result, Verstappen holding on to P2.

Stepping up onto the podium to receive his trophy and a bottle of rose water – no champagne in Saudi Arabia – the 24-year-old quickly made his exit.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “Because there was no champagne. It wasn’t fun.”

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on the podium. Saudi Arabia December 2021

His actions, though, did not go down well with some fans or pundits.

BBC sports commentator Sulaiman Folarin said of it: “Max Verstappen just confirmed he is a bad sportsman.

“He walked off the stage without celebrating as customary. Where are his apologists?”

Max Verstappen walks off the podium and just underlines the sort of sportsman he is…” said The Sun’s Luke Gardener.

However, former driver Martin Brundle was a bit more sympathetic to Verstappen’s obvious disappointment.

“He walked off the back,” he told Sky F1. “He doesn’t want any part of that.

“He clearly feels very aggrieved he had to give the lead back — having offered the lead back, but there was contact.”

David Croft added: “Verstappen doesn’t want to celebrate on that podium tonight. If the gloves weren’t off before, they certainly are now.”

 

 

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Masi denies ‘deal’ with Red Bull over Jeddah restart

Michael Masi says Max Verstappen’s grid ‘penalty’ for the second restart of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix resulted from an “offer” rather than a ‘deal’.

A predictably chaotic first race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit featured three standing starts due to two red-flag stoppages – one caused by a Mick Schumacher crash and the second by a collision that ended the races of Nikita Mazepin, George Russell and Sergio Perez.

For the third and final occasion when the cars formed on the grid, Verstappen should have been at the front but instead lined up third following an incident where he had clashed with his World Championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the previous restart.

This ‘grid drop’ came about following separate conversations between Masi and the sporting directors of Red Bull and Mercedes, Jonathan Wheatley and Ron Meadows respectively, where they agreed to that course of action rather than Verstappen being given a penalty.

It was referred to during broadcast coverage as a “deal”, but in speaking about the episode later the FIA race director preferred to use different terminology – and insisted the seemingly unusual chain of events had been anything but irregular.

Michael Masi talking on phone at the Brazilian GP. Interlagos November 2021.

“I wouldn’t call it a deal,” Masi told the Formula 1 website. “From a race director’s perspective I have no authority to actually instruct the teams to do anything.

“In that situation I can give them an offer, the ability to do that, but the choice is theirs.

“The stewards are obviously empowered to impose penalties but I can give them my perspective. That’s why I offered them (Red Bull) the ability to give that position up.

“It was as a result of the red flag that came about with the incident at turn three. The priority in any red flag situation is to make sure the drivers are safe, then to activate the recovery and the marshals can clean the track and so forth, so it probably seemed a bit elongated compared to normal.

“However, it’s very much a normal discussion that takes place.”

 

The Australian insisted there had been precedents not only during this season but in past campaigns too, and that he acted as soon as he had seen the first of three incidents during the race for which Verstappen was penalised for skirmishes with Hamilton.

“Immediately when I saw it happen at turn two I suggested to the stewards I would give the team the ability to give that place back,” explained Masi.

“The red flag obviously ensued very quickly thereafter and that was absolutely the priority before we got going again. Being under a suspension, it was the ability to effectively correct that before we went racing again.

“Very much a normal discussion that happens on a number of occasions and has had all year and previously.”

 

Planet F1 verdict

 

 

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Verstappen’s most embarrassing moment in F1

Max Verstappen has billed his 2016 United States GP pit stop blunder as his most embarrassing moment as a Formula 1 driver.

The Dutchman, promoted to Red Bull’s senior team earlier in the year, was running a strong fourth at the Circuit of the Americas having passed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen suddenly pulled into the pits but his mechanics weren’t ready for the driver.

They quickly jumped into action but the slow stop meant Verstappen lost positions.

Turns out he had no one but himself to blame as he made an assumption that, as they often do, proved to be wrong.

“In 2016, in Austin,” he told GPToday.net when asked what was his most embarrassing F1 moment. “I was driving, I was like P5 maybe. It was going quite well, I was closing on the guys in third and fourth.

“My engineer, he would say ‘push now, push now’. Back then, that normally meant that lap you were pitting, but I knew that I had to speed up.

“So he said that, I was doing my lap in Austin and [at] the second to last corner, I went in all good and then I drove to the pit entry and into the corner – and I realised he never called me in.

“He didn’t tell me to pit, he never said it.

“I was like ‘Oh my god, what did I just do?’. I’m in the pit lane I’m like ‘Guys, I’m pitting, I’m pitting, I’m in the pits!’.

“Suddenly you see all the guys running out, they were taking random tyres.

“The pit stop was like eight or nine seconds, but still considering what I did, it was a very fast pit stop.

“After the pit stop I didn’t say anything because it doesn’t make sense to argue.”

The Dutchman retired a few laps later when gearbox gremlins forced him out of the grand prix.

Out of the car he had to face the wrath of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

Ironically, though, fans still voted Verstappen their ‘Driver of the Day’ for his efforts that Sunday.

“So I continued,” he added, “but within three laps something died and my car retired.

“After the race, having the discussion, Helmut was pretty angry at me.

“But I was like ‘yeah, I f*cked up. I thought he called me in’.”

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Horner excited to see how Hamilton handles ‘young wave’

Red Bull principal Christian Horner looks forward to seeing Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head with the “young wave” of F1 talent in the coming years.

The Mercedes man stormed his way to a sixth World Championship in 2019, putting him just one shy of Michael Schumacher’s record seven.

But in 2019 we also saw the emergence of Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, while for the first time Red Bull’s Max Verstappen showed the kind of mentality required for him to become a World Champion one day.

And Horner is really looking forward to the battle to come between these two generations.

“Every now and again, you get a wave coming along and I think we’ve got that at the moment,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“So I think especially exciting is the Max/Leclerc dynamic, how that’s going to play out over future years, how Lewis can still go toe to toe with those guys.

“Because there’s life in him yet as well and I think he’s keen to gauge himself against the young wave that’s coming through.

“I think for Formula 1 it’s fantastic to have the dynamics of the young guys, the challengers, coming through and some of the older guys that are the old dogs that know all the tricks.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes deal is up after 2020, but he is expected to sign fresh terms after Leclerc and Verstappen both extended their deals with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

And while Hamilton admits that his ventures outside of F1, such as his fashion brand, are a way of giving himself something to fall back on once he retires from F1, that doesn’t mean he is walking away any time soon.

“The core of what I do is that I love racing, I love the challenge,” he explained.

“I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle that I get into that every single year.

“And I am working with these guys who are so much smarter than me and they make me feel smarter, [and] when I am challenging them and proving them wrong so many times, it is unreal!

“I don’t fear [the day I retire]. It is going to be a sad day, to hang up and stop doing something you’ve loved your whole life and as long as you can remember. But that is why I have all these other things in place that I can fall back on.

“The fashion side, for example, I’ve found another business that I can do for a long time if successful. Currently that is going really, really well but I don’t know how long it will go. But at least I have another interest.

“But there are a lot of different things I can be interested in. I know my life is not going to be over when I retire. And that gives me a lot of comfort but right now I feel physically good enough to continue so I’m going to try to eke that out as long as I can.”

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Max lifts lid on dynamic with his race engineer

Max Verstappen has revealed that he has a “very honest” partnership with his race engineer, who will say to each other if and when they are doing a “bad job”.

Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have worked together ever since the Dutchman’s first year with the Red Bull senior team and are poised to continue the relationship with Verstappen signing a new three-year contract extension in January.

Verstappen values the fact that Lambiase does not talk for the sake of it and that clear communication helps him to stay focused and try to perform to his best ability.

“I think we are both very straightforward. We’re very honest,” Verstappen said via Motorsport.com.

“And we can say to each other when we do a bad job. I like that.

“And he’s also a guy who doesn’t talk too much. I don’t like someone who’s talking just to talk, giving me more messages – because for me, that is just not working. And he’s exactly the same, so he likes that as well.

“So short, quick communication is for me the best and, over the years, you get to know each other as well. You spend a lot of time with each other. Sometimes I think he can just guess already what I was going to say.”

Verstappen also mentioned the whole Red Bull team shares one common bond and that is their determination to win.

“It’s just very nice to be in the team, it is really enjoyable, a lot of fun, which I think is also important in the team,” he added.

“Everybody gets along very well with each other. And we all want to win, we have the winners’ mentality.

“Everybody at the track and back at the factory, they are also motivated to show everyone that we can get back to those winning days of Red Bull dominating. We just want to try and recreate that.”

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Berger: Leclerc ‘more political’ than Verstappen

Ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger believes Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are level when it comes to ability, but Leclerc embraces “politics” more.

Both Verstappen and Leclerc regularly make up the conversation when talking about future stars of Formula 1 and are seen as the pair most likely to end the dominant reign of six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Fans got a taste of the potential future battles to come between Leclerc and Verstappen in 2019, most notably at the Austrian and British GPs, and both are now tied down to long-term deals with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

But while both youngsters possess amazing talent, the way they go about racing is different in Berger’s eyes.

While Verstappen in his opinion is the unpredictable one with no filter, Leclerc he feels conducts himself in a more “political” manner, making the pair “fundamentally different”.

“The two are fundamentally different. Verstappen is more aggressive and unpredictable,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“He is completely apolitical, says what he thinks, and loud enough for everyone to hear. He drives the same way.

“Leclerc gives the impression that he is the calmer and more considerate driver. I see more calculation, more politics.

“As I said, a completely different approach, but on the same level in terms of ability.”

Verstappen has established himself as the clear number one at Red Bull, and in 2020 he will look to keep his advantage over team-mate Alex Albon as the Anglo-Thai driver begins his first full season with the team.

Leclerc meanwhile will look to continue his progress at Ferrari – he joined the team for 2019 to act as Sebastian Vettel’s understudy while he improved his craft, but would go on to score more points, claim more poles and race wins than the four-time World Champion.

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Doornbos surprised by Verstappen’s long-term deal

Ex-Red Bull driver, Robert Doornbos, has said it was “surprising” to see Max Verstappen sign a new, long contract with the team.

Verstappen has agreed a new three-year contract extension with Red Bull which will now expire at the end of the 2023 season.

The Dutchman’s previous contract was due to expire following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign and Doornbos was surprised to see his fellow compatriot commit to them again for so long.

“I raced for Red Bull myself, so I still have sources there,” Doorbos is quoted as having told Dutch broadcaster NPO 1.

“I knew that something was going on, but that he would be extending for such a long term, that is surprising in Formula 1.

“In the sport, they never dare to make a commitment to a driver for so long unless they have already won a number of world titles.

“I think it’s a bit of loyalty and a bit of certainty, as after this year a lot will change in Formula 1. But I think 2020 is his best chance to go for a championship.”

Verstappen’s new contract is said to be worth in the region of £12million a year, which reportedly puts him third on the highest-earning driver list behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen is not the only big name to commit his long-term future to his current employers so early on. Charles Leclerc has signed a new deal with Ferrari that will run until the end of the 2024 season.

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Brundle: Hamilton's 2021 options 'cut down' by Verstappen deal

Former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle believes that Max Verstappen’s new deal with Red Bull Racing has “cut down” Lewis Hamilton’s options for 2021.

Verstappen extended this week his allegiance to Red Bull – the company that brought the Dutchman into F1 in 2014 – until the end of 2023.

Vesrtappen’s deal with the Milton Keynes-based team has quashed the prospect of a move to Ferrari or Mercedes in the mid-term.

But Brundle says the move, coupled with Charles Leclerc’s locked-in seat at Ferrari, opens up questions about Mercedes’ game plan regarding the future with both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ contracts expiring at the end of this year.

“The Verstappen news does make my mind think ‘what’s going on at Mercedes’ short to medium term?” Brundle told Sky Sports.

“I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.

“You’d have to look at it and think that Mercedes have got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they’ve got, so why hasn’t one of them signed up there?”

Hamilton has said that he is in no hurry to decide his post-2020 future, although the six-time world champion has often expressed his desire to remain with the Mercedes family, despite rumors of Ferrari’s courtship of the Briton.

“It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he’s still holding a lot of aces,” added Brundle. “And it doesn’t prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really.

“It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn’t stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari. But it has cut Lewis’ options down, if indeed he hasn’t already signed with Mercedes-Benz longer term.

“Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven’t heard yet.”

Brundle admitted to have been surprised by the recent flurry of contract announcements.

“These post-2020 deals have certainly happened earlier than I expected,” he said.

“I thought Max would see whether Red Bull could give him a championship-challenging car over the first few races of the year and then take a view.

“So something has crystalised that earlier, which again makes my mind wonder about what is going on elsewhere.”

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Salo: Verstappen contract ‘doesn’t change anything’

Former Formula 1 driver, Mika Salo, thinks Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull deal does not change the 2021 driver market very much.

A quarter of the F1 2021 grid is already in place following Verstappen’s new three-year contract extension, suggesting that the traditional ‘silly season’ may not go on to live up to the hype.

Salo feels that there was always a good chance Verstappen would stay with Red Bull and there is still a lot of potential for a grid shake-up with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo all still out of contract at the end of 2020.

“It really doesn’t change anything,” Salo is quoted as having told Finnish outlet C More. “It was quite expected that Max would stay there.

“Everything else is still open. Pretty much everyone else’s contract is ending.

Salo also believes it was crucial that Red Bull were able to tie Verstappen down to a new deal, saying that they “need” him as opposed to just wanting him to stay.

“They need Max,” Salo added. “Red Bull has been able to guarantee Verstappen good money and a good car.

“I think the situation is satisfactory to Max. Now he can concentrate on the season.”

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Brundle expected Leclerc or Verstappen to join Mercedes

Martin Brundle thought that either Charles Leclerc or Max Verstappen would have joined Mercedes rather commit their futures to Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

Two of Formula 1’s premier talents in Leclerc and Verstappen have decided to stay put with their current teams beyond 2020 as the sport heads into a new era with a major regulations overhaul.

Leclerc is signed up to Ferrari until at least the end of the 2024, while Verstappen has signed a three-year contract extension with Red Bull that runs until the end of 2023 season.

These recommitments have left Brundle a little surprised as he was expecting one of them to join the Silver Arrows.

“The Verstappen news does makes my mind think ‘what’s going on at Mercedes’ short to medium term?” Brundle told Sky Sports F1.

“I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.

“You’d have to look at it and think that Mercedes have got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they’ve got, so why hasn’t one of them signed up there?”

As for where this leaves Lewis Hamilton – his contract still set to expire after 2020 – Brundle thinks the six-time World Champion’s options have narrowed, but he can still dictate where his future ultimately lies.

“It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he’s still holding a lot of aces,” he added.

“And it doesn’t prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really.

“It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn’t stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari.

“But it has cut Lewis’ options down, if indeed he hasn’t already signed with Mercedes-Benz longer term. Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven’t heard yet.

“But these post-2020 deals have certainly happened earlier than I expected. I thought Max would see whether Red Bull could give him a championship-challenging car over the first few races of the year and then take a view.

“So something has crystalised that earlier, which again makes my mind wonder about what is going on elsewhere.”

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