Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas feels the penalty was fair for the contact between him and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in Italian GP at Monza.
The Dutchman overtook Bottas at the start of the race to be third when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel spun with Kimi Raikkonen leading Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The gap between the Top 2 and Verstappen opened up fairly soon.
While Bottas couldn’t challenge Verstappen early on but from midway in the race until the end, the Finn was always on the tail of the Red Bull driver. In fact, Bottas tried the move several times before eventually they made contact.
In one of the earlier moves in the inside, Verstappen took the Turn 1 run-off having misjudged the braking while the second one ended up in a collision where Bottas had to cut the corner after they touched.
Verstappen’s reaction to the five-second penalty was natural as the Dutchman felt he was wronged by the stewards as he left enough space for Bottas. The Finn, on the other hand, reckons the rule regarding defending is clear and the penalty was fair.
“It is said that as long as you keep a car width space on the left of you on the braking then you are allowed to do that,” said Verstappen after the race. “I did that from my feeling and we touched wheels and they gave me a penalty for that.
“I mean of course I don’t agree with it but that’s my view. If you [have to] look at the positives [from the race], the car was performing well [as we managed to keep Mercedes for so long behind].”
The Dutchman added that even if the stewards were taking in the Lap 1 scuffle when Verstappen got ahead of Bottas, the penalty still wasn’t warranted – the cameras perhaps didn’t catch the earlier incident between the two.
“I think there was a couple of proper overtaking opportunities for me and the first one, I went inside and he just cut the chicane to stay ahead of me,” said Bottas. “The second time – I think there is a very clear rule that once you defend you choose your line.
“And if another car is there you need to leave a car’s width and obviously he didn’t, I was there, so we touched and he got a penalty for that. I think it’s a very simple and clear rule, so he got a penalty for that.”
Eventually, Verstappen managed to hold off Bottas to finish third on the road but in doing so he not only lost out to Bottas but allowed Vettel to get within the five seconds which resulted in the Dutchman dropping to fifth with Bottas in third and Vettel fourth.