Max Verstappen’s winning gap to Lewis Hamilton last weekend at the Styrian Grand Prix was over 30 seconds. After a dominant and flawless performance, the Dutch driver crossed the finish line and the checkered flag driving alongside his pit teammates who were hanging from the wall and finally slowed to celebrate with a “tyre-burn-out” maneuver.
At the FIA, Michael Masi & CIA were not happy with the final display showed by the Red Bull driver and said after the race that, in order to avoid potential penalties in the future, celebrations like this “will not be tolerated” as it is considered a potential safety risk.
The driver that crossed the line immediately next to Verstappen was the lapped Williams of Nicholas Latifi, and today, at the drivers’ press conference on media day ahead of the Austrian GP, the Canadian talked about this.
“When I was coming to the finish line, I saw Max pulling to the inside to celebrate with the team like most drivers do. So I just make sure to stay as far to the left as possible, (…) Michael thought it was dangerous, so I don’t think a lot of other cars will be doing that in the future. So it’s probably best to not slow down that much.”
When Max Verstappen’s turn of being questioned about the incident arrived, he joked but assured that he understood the reasons and will not be doing burn-out celebrations like this again, even though he states he took care of any safety implications that moment.
“I’ll try and do a doughnut next time,” said Verstappen.
“I understand of course about safety but I looked in my mirror, went all the way to the right, took it easy, everyone was on the left. I just did a burn-out. Okay, if it’s not allowed, I won’t do it again. At the time I thought it was really funny and safe but of course, I understand they don’t want to see this happening again, which is fine for me,” he added.
Finally, the 23-year-old concluded by speaking his mind on what is, so far, the championship battle that has him leading Lewis Hamilton by an 18-points gap in the drivers’ standings. The Red Bull driver said he’s completely focused on not letting the current world champion take a breath, as he know what the British can do and expects an even more hard battle.
“I expect it to be a tougher fight. There are no guarantees in this sport and we have to keep improving,”
That weekend was very enjoyable but it’s not a guarantee that it will happen again, you know? We have to make sure that now with the softer compounds we again have a good car with a good balance and of course, people learn from their mistakes last week.”