The FIA has given a punishment of community service to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen for pushing Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon after their Formula 1 Brazil GP clash.
The incident took place on Lap 44 at Interlagos when Ocon was trying to unlap himself from race leader Verstappen going into Turn 1 and 2, with the Frenchman having an inside line to the Dutchman in the right-hander.
With a slightly better pace, Ocon was on Verstappen’s side when the Dutchman turned in for the corner and they touched – sending both of them into a spin with Verstappen the driver to lose as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton went past him in the lead.
Ocon was handed a 10 second stop and go penalty as he finished 16th but was promoted to 15th with penalties to other drivers. Verstappen, meanwhile, caught up with Hamilton but did not have enough legs and had to settle for second.
Post-race, it turned ugly when Verstappen confronted Ocon while on the weighbridge with the Dutchman shoving off the Frenchman as the FIA officials had to intervene. The two were then summoned to the stewards office.
The FIA stated that Verstappen breached Article 12.3.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code which means the Red Bull driver has to perform ‘public service for two days under the direction of the FIA’ which he has to do within six months of the punishment.
The FIA understood the passion from Verstappen but did not agree with the behaviour of a F1 driver who is a role model to his rivals and also young racers. The Dutchman said his intention wasn’t to push Ocon, but he was triggered by his reactions to the clash.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 11, 2018
The views after the race was certainly opposing with Ocon and Force India stating that they did what could be done under the said rules and the Frenchman tried to unlap him only after knowing that he had the pace to do it.
In fact, Ocon clocked a 1m12.876s on his first flying lap after the pit stop when Verstappen did a 1m13.116s and on the very next lap, the incident took place. More than the clash, Ocon was disappointed with Verstappen’s ‘violent’ behaviour.
I respect the FIA’s decision but just to be clear, if you are faster you are allowed to unlap yourself. I overtook 7 times into turn 2 this race it was always tight, but always fair… #EO31 #brazilgp #swipe⬅️ pic.twitter.com/UrmujIj09Q
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) November 11, 2018
“It’s disappointing not to score when we had good pace,” said Ocon. “I had made some good overtakes throughout the race, but it all came to nothing after the contact with Max [Verstappen]. I came out of the pits, I stayed behind him for nearly two laps
“But I was much faster than him and the team advised me to unlap myself. I went on the outside at turn one – the same move I made on Fernando [Alonso] and on many others before, but Max didn’t give me any space.
“Once I was beside him I couldn’t just disappear, so we collided. But it was my corner and I had the right to the space. I was saddened by his behaviour after the race: he was very aggressive and the guys from the FIA had to intervene.
“That’s not the way to handle these things.” On the other hand, Verstappen admitted that Ocon had the right to unlap himself but he felt he should have done in a much risk-free way while defending his actions at the weighbridge.
“I don’t really have a lot to comment on that [Ocon’s push], except that he was being a pussy,” he said on the shoving incident. “I think at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what penalty he gets.
“I already have the penalty of not winning the race so even if you disqualify him, give him two drive-throughs or whatever, it’s not going to make a difference to our race. I don’t know what the right penalty would be.
“Like I said, of course they have the right to unlap themselves but you have to be careful. I think that has always been the case.” Once all was said and done, the two drivers did shake their hands while heading into their respective garages.