SAO PAULO • Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was ordered to perform two days of public service for his violent behaviour towards Esteban Ocon following Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the FIA announced.
The Dutchman was caught on TV pushing the Frenchman three times in the chest and threatening to punch him in the drivers’ weighing room after the race, during which they collided.
The collision on Lap 44 of the 71-lap race at Interlagos’ famed Senna S curves cost Verstappen the race lead and he had to settle for second place behind five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
Force India’s Ocon was given a 10-second stop-go penalty.
Both drivers were summoned to the stewards, who later announced that they had “acted appropriately and cooperated” during their hearing.
In a statement, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that “Verstappen is required to perform two days of public service at the direction of the FIA within six months of the incident”.
It added that the 21-year-old was being investigated for “acts prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.
Ocon told Sky Sports afterwards that Verstappen was “not professional” and that their rivalry “goes back a few years”.
MAX STILL MAD
It was not right. We are all passionate about the sport, but it would be odd if I shook his hand. I don’t care what people say.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Red Bull driver, is not particularly repentant over his behaviour towards Force India counterpart Esteban Ocon. He had pushed the Frenchman thrice and threatened to punch him in the drivers’ weighing room after the race.
“We were at the scales room. He wanted to punch me. He pushed me and was wanting to be violent,” the 22-year-old, who also called Verstappen a “lunatic” on French TV, said.
“The rules say you are allowed to un-lap yourself so that’s what I did. I’m used to the fights with Max. He’s always been the same.”
Verstappen later explained he was “extremely upset by the incident on the track” and his intention was not to strike Ocon, but he was “triggered”, causing him to lose his temper.
The 21-year-old also added that he had no regrets about the bust-up, which went viral on social media.
“He came out of the pit lane and he had the right to overtake, but the level of risk he was taking, it was not right,” Verstappen said. “We are all passionate about the sport, but it would be odd if I shook his hand. I don’t care what people say.”
A conspiracy theory also began to float afterward, ESPN reported, with Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko telling German motoring magazine Motorsport-Magazin that it was “unbelievable” that a “Mercedes driver” (Ocon) had crashed into the race leader.
However, Force India team boss Otmar Szafnauer dismissed the suggestion that Ocon’s long-term contract with Mercedes had played any part in his actions.
He told Sky Sports television: “He asked us, ‘Can I unlap myself?’ He was unsure. And we said, ‘Yeah, go ahead’.”
Hamilton took advantage of the collision and hung on with worn tyres to take the chequered flag – his 10th win of the year and 72nd career victory – allowing Mercedes to claim their fifth successive constructors’ title.
Kimi Raikkonen finished third on his 150th start for Ferrari while teammate Sebastian Vettel came home sixth.
“It was an honour to drive for them (Mercedes) today,” said Hamilton, who, for the first time, won a late-season race after clinching the drivers’ title.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS