Formula 1’s Ross Brawn feels the incident between Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon in Brazil GP was a lesson for both the drivers.
It all looked good for Verstappen as he was on his way for his first-ever back-to-back win in F1 in Brazil until Lap 44 when he had the clash with Ocon which sent them both into a spin, with the Dutchman losing his lead to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
He caught up with Hamilton but then it wasn’t enough as he had to settle for second place. His dejection though was to be seen once he was out of the car and also on the podium – he did have a word in between that with Ocon.
The Frenchman was trying to unlap himself on the fresher tyres as he was quicker naturally but the move ended up being too much in Turn 2 as he was adjudged the guilty party and handed a 10 second stop and go penalty for the collision.
Verstappen made it look all the more ugly with the shove on the weighing scale as the stewards handed him two-day public service punishment. Former team boss Brawn laid blame on Ocon for the on-track clash and Verstappen for the off-track scuffle.
“Over the past 10 years, no one has won the Brazilian Grand Prix from further back than the second row, but Max Verstappen came very close on Sunday,” wrote Brawn in his usual post-race column.
“He started fifth and passed all four drivers who had started ahead of him, but it wasn’t enough to give him the win. The collision with Esteban Ocon came when the Frenchman was trying to unlap himself immediately after his pit stop and it cost Max dearly, sending him into a spin and leaving the door open for Hamilton.
“The Dutchman’s push in the closing stages was not enough to retake the lead and after that, Max vented his anger in parc ferme, making physical contact with Ocon. It was not an edifying sight and though understandable it was of course not justifiable.
“The incident with Ocon was a cruel moment, but in the aftermath Max showed he has made enormous progress in his career is still not able to manage his emotions in these situations, an essential next step.
“Having said that, one mustn’t forget he is still very young and while his conduct wasn’t justifiable we can all understand the frustration he felt after the incident and again at the end of the race, the outcome of which should not cancel out what was an amazing performance from the Dutchman.
“After all, it’s not every day you drive past two Ferraris and two Mercedes. I’m sure Max will learn from what happened and that everything that happened, including the penalty he was given, will contribute to his development as a driver and mainly as a man.
“And so we come to the other main protagonist of the key moment of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon. While the Frenchman was entirely justified in wanting to unlap himself, given that he was clearly quicker at that moment, it has to be said there was no reason for him to take on Verstappen as though he was fighting for his first win in Formula 1.
“He deserved the 10-second stop and go penalty he was given in the race. Drivers must not forget they are role models for the fans and for youngsters who want to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think that Ocon, when he attacked Max during the race, was simply thinking of trying to get in the points.
“I believe it was more the case that he was caught up in the moment and didn’t think it through, maybe fighting to the death with the race leader might not have been the best plan, even when that driver is one with whom you had some spirited fights in the lower formulae.
“Overall, Sunday was a lesson for both Verstappen and Ocon, one they won’t forget in a hurry. It’s just another part of their learning curve.” While Brawn has made his judgement, the opinions are still divided on the track action and aftermath.