Mercedes and Red Bull duo along with FIA Race Director Michael Masi share their thoughts on multiple topics relating to F1 Saudi Arabian GP.

It was heated run all-through the F1 Saudi Arabian GP especially once Haas’ Mick Schumacher had his crash. It all went downhill from there as a smart game by Red Bull allowed Max Verstappen to have the lead from the Mercedes duo amid a free tyre change.

But his re-start did not go as per plans with them having their first wheel-to-wheel go where Verstappen was outside and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the inside. The fight doesn’t last long with another red flag after multi-car incident at Turn 2-3.

The next re-start then started the whole FIA-Mercedes-Red Bull discussion about the Turn 1 incident. Verstappen was close to a penalty but the radio discussions eventually came to a conclusion that the Dutchman would start third behind Ocon and Hamilton.

It was agreed between them that if Ocon was on pole then Verstappen would be third behind Hamilton, but that start saw the Dutchman take the inside line and with the Brit sandwiched by the Frenchman on outside, he couldn’t push on.

Hamilton had his endplate fall but he stuck with him and eventually got behind Verstappen again. They had another Turn 1 moment with the Dutchman eventually getting a 5s penalty for cutting the corner and gaining an advantage after failing to give the place.

In fact, Verstappen tried giving the place but that resulted in a DRS tactics game and the Dutchman decelerating suddenly catching out Hamilton – even though the Brit understood the game. They had more places trading with the Red Bull driver eventually yeilding.

Post-race, Verstappen was adjudged to be guilty of slowing down erratically and was handed a 10s penalty which did not cost him a place. But it was too late anyhow as they are now equal on points heading to Abu Dhabi.

Here’s what the Mercedes and Red Bull along with Masi stated about the whole game:


The race and 5s penalty:

Verstappen – “Confusing! Third, then starting first, dropped to third, third to first, five-second penalty, second, finished second, touches… yeah, I don’t know, I mean, I don’t agree with all the decisions, but I also don’t want to talk about it too much, because I don’t think we need to talk about it, they don’t deserve any mentions. I also don’t want to waste too much time on it because we don’t need to make headlines out of it.”

Turn 1 incidents:

Verstappen – “Yeah, so of course he had the run, a bit like Brazil, and of course I braked late and I think I got a little bit off line at one point I guess and I had a moment, so I went wide, but he also didn’t make the corner so we both basically missed the corner and I don’t think it’s fair to then just say that I get a penalty but, yeah, it is what it is.”

Communication on position giving:

Verstappen – “Yeah, so then at one point they told me I had to give the position back. That was I think just before 22. So after 22-23, I went to drive to the right side and I slowed down and I was braking and downshifting and he just stayed super close behind me and I don’t really understand why. I was just trying to let him by. I’m just going slower and slower, pulling the downshift. We had a… oh I don’t know, a miscommunication or whatever and he ran into the back of me and that was it.”

Being called ‘fucking crazy’ and post-race radio:

Verstappen – “[Doesn’t] Not really [matters]. Like I said, emotions were running high at the time, so it is what it is. And for radio, it’s not only this race, but in general lately, the trend in F1. Yeah, that’s not how I grew up watching Formula 1 but I mean, again, like I said also after the race, it is what it is and we just have to deal with it and move on.”

What is racing:

Verstappen – “I find it interesting that I am the one who gets the penalty when both of us ran outside of the white lines. In Brazil it was fine and now suddenly I get a penalty for it. Well, you could clearly see both didn’t make the corner, but it’s fine. I mean I also don’t really spend too much time on it. We have to move forward. We’re equal on points on now and I think that’s really exciting, of course, for the whole championship and Formula 1 in general but I said it earlier on my in-lap, I think lately we’re talking more about white lines and penalties than actually proper Formula 1 racing and that’s, I think, a little bit of a shame.”


Sudden braking incident:

Hamilton – “I was just reminiscing about 2008 in Spa, in my first championship winning year, when I was fighting Kimi into the last corner of the Spa chicane and he ran me wide and I went across the chicane and I had to let him back past but then I overtook him straight away and I remember Charlie Whiting telling the team that it was OK and then finishing the race – Kimi obviously didn’t finish the race – but then getting a, I think it was a 10-second or whatever it was, 20s yeah, OK, yeah, and then finishing third.

“At this point of the… obviously I knew that Max had overtaken two of us by going over Turn 2 which at the beginning of the race we were told that that wasn’t allowed, but I hadn’t yet had the information yet that he would be backing off, so all of a sudden he started slowing down into 27 where the DRS zone is but it wasn’t quite clear to me, it was a bit confusing and then all of a sudden, he slowed down at a real… at a rapid pace and that’s when I had to avoid going completely up the backside of him.

“Yeah, I felt grateful that I obviously didn’t take us both out. For me, I need to be finishing both races and get all these points and it’s obviously tough to do so in these circumstances, but yeah, I managed to keep the car in one piece.”

Why not pass:

Hamilton – “It really wasn’t clear. So, there are two scenarios. There’s one that it wasn’t clear, two I didn’t get the information, and then it became apparent that he was trying to let me past, which was what he, I guess, had been asked to do but before the DRS zone. So then it would have meant he would just DRS back past me coming through the last corner, followed me and then DRS-ed me into turn one. So that was the tactic, but I think that really the  worst part was the steep, heavy braking that then happened at one point, which then I had to really… that’s where we collided. That was the dangerous part.”

What’s racing:

Hamilton – “I don’t think I’ve changed the way that I race. I think we’re seeing multiple incidents this year where even with Brazil we’re supposed to do our racing on track in between the white lines and the rules haven’t been clear from the stewards, that those things have been allowed, so that’s continued. From my understanding, I know that I can’t overtake someone and go off track and then keep the position but I think that’s well known between all us drivers but it doesn’t apply to one of us, I guess.”

Calling Verstappen out:

Hamilton – “I definitely feel that there were scenarios where that was the case. This is not the first time that I’ve had to avoid a collision and yeah, that’s how I felt at the moment, but you know sometimes you say things in the heat of the moment and you go back and rewatch things and then you maybe feel differently but in the moment that’s how it felt. But I really just tried to recompose myself and chase down and keep fighting.”


Communication about giving place and why:

Horner – “Well, once Max had been awarded the five-second penalty, our only chance to win the race was to try and build a five-second gap but I think the damage he sustained with the diffuser the back of the car – we’re not yet clearly understanding exactly what – it was impossible for him to pull out that five-second gap so then he chose to allow Lewis past and obviously was then in a mode of trying to get the car to the finish because we could see there was a couple of cuts on the tyres were pretty deep. So then it was just making sure you get the 18 points rather than no points.

“There’d been a debate about giving up the place, Michael was adamant that you have a choice or it’s going to the stewards, at which point you know it’s going to be a penalty, so we said, ‘Okay, we’ll give the place up’ and we informed race control. As for the incident itself, it’s weird though because Lewis is slowing down behind him, it sounds like he’s lifted off. So it’s like he didn’t want to pass him there because of the DRS and I think we were trying to give the place up. Lewis then drives up the back of Max’s car, obviously we picked up quite a bit of damage with that. So very, very frustrating, very annoying.”

Turn 1 incidents down to Verstappen’s style and penalties:

Horner: “I think is he solely to blame if two drivers run off track? We saw it in the Formula 2 race with Daruvala, I thought it was fairly harsh that he got whacked with a penalty, five seconds for running wide, you know, did he get gain a lasting advantage from it? It was hard, it was harsh. Obviously, when Max was able to take the lead I think at the restart and then Ocon slotted in behind, and then it became a negotiation of you either give it up or you take the penalty, or it gets referred to the stewards. So it ended up in a debate and, of course, we decided that if he’s going to go to the stewards, he’s going to get a penalty.

“So that’s why we conceded the grid position for the restart, that then in turn pushed us towards taking the mediums, because that was the only way on the first lap, that we were going to be able to have the chance of passing Lewis, which Max truly did. As for the other incident, I would ask you to look at Lewis’ entrance into the final corner, he pushed Max off the same way. Any driver that’s come through karting or raced in any category … you know that that is hard racing, that’s how these kids have raced throughout their careers.

“Lewis is very wily with the way he does it sometimes, but look at the last corner when he ran Max out wide there look, there was another corner as well, where he’s opened the steering wheel, I think it was into Turn 1 too. So these two guys that are fighting over such fine margins pushing to the boundary, if you don’t want them to have the ability to run wide then put a gravel trap over there.”

Offers from FIA, etc:

Horner – “It was a bit like being down the souk which was unusual. haven’t come across that previously. Obviously, we voiced our own argument. I’m sure Mercedes voiced theirs. It was just very frustrating. We didn’t feel that the five-second penalty was really warranted. And certainly we felt that Lewis just drove up the back of Max’s car. So obviously, there’ll be a hearing shortly, but it looked like he was just trying to avoid overtaking because he didn’t want to not get the DRS.

“I think we’re over regulated, and then the referee, if you felt like, there’s rules about 10 car lengths, but you know, the formation lap isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart…it feels that there’s too many rules. It felt like today the sport missed Charlie Whiting, I’m sorry to say, but the experience that he had…it’s obviously frustrating but yeah, it’s difficult for Michael and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue, type of circuit, but with the amount of debris and types of corner there are, but yeah, it’s the same for everybody.”


Conduct of both Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, particularly Verstappen:

Wolff – “Look, I’m biased, and I’m still riding the emotions, and therefore it’s so difficult to really judge. I think when they hit each other, we need to look at the data. I haven’t seen the data, whether how the deceleration was, whether there was a brake involved, or whether it was just to have the DRS advantage, that’s why he slowed down there. But some of the other, Turn 1, Turn 2 incidents, it was a little bit like Brazil reloaded and small.

“It [Verstappen’s racing] was very hard. Very hard. In a way, I can understand that he is fighting for his first world championship. And there was so much confusion in the race, and so many moments I would have judged as over the line. But I want to look at the race tomorrow again, and in all calmness and reassess.”

Marko’s comments of bias, etc:

Wolff – “You need to dig quite deep to come up with things that went against Max today. I can’t comment of what they say. I think in Brazil, we felt that it was harsh against us, with a disqualification for the sprint race. Who would have thought that we can come back? I think that Lewis could have scored three points in that sprint race, and didn’t score any. And that could be valuable points. Someone is always going to be unhappy about things. I’m trying to, with all my bias, still to try to see, look at things with a common sense. I guess i’m not always successful in the heat of the moment, but, hmm.”

Horner’s comments regarding Whiting, FIA offers:

Wolff – “We had confusion today. I would have wished the red flag wouldn’t have been taken at the beginning of the race, where I thought that we have lost the race, and that clearly was also a judgemental call, when some of the advertising on a barrier is ripped off, whether you stop the race. But it is what it is. There was so much on today, so many things to judge. And I wouldn’t want to be neither in Michael’s seat nor in the stewards’ seat today. Because you’re always looking stupid if you are making mistakes, and if there are 100 decisions to take, there are maybe some that are wrong or controversial. I think we just need to learn from that.”


Offer and deals:

Masi – “Certainly. It’s very much, wouldn’t call it a deal, from a race directors’ 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, so that’s why I offered them the ability to give that position up. It was as a result of the red flag that came about with the incident at Turn 3, the priority in any red flag situation is A, to make sure the drivers are safe, then to activate the recovery and the marshals can do so, clean the track and so forth. So probably seemed a bit elongated compared to normal, however it’s very much normal discussion that takes place.

“I immediately when I saw it happen at Turn 2, I immediately suggested to the stewards that I’m going to give the team the ability to give that place back. 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. It’s very much a normal discussion that happens regularly on a number of occasions and has had all year and previously.”

Conduct of both Mercedes, Red Bull drivers plus Turn 27 incident:

Masi – “It is an intense championship battle between two fantastic drivers and two great teams. So that’s part of an intense championship battle on both sides. The incident at Turn 27, having discussed it with the stewards, which is why they waited to investigate that until after the race. That investigation is ongoing currently, but just to get the full perspective from both drivers that were involved, to understand the entire situation. So it was obviously the immediate reaction and what occurred, but sitting down, running through it all, the stewards will no doubt with time this evening, this morning, come to their decision.”

Here’s how first re-start was:

Here’s how second re-start worked:

Here’s when they collided:

Here’s the eventual pass:

Here’s why Max Verstappen got penalty for erratic braking