In Brazil, the battle for the win of the race and for some precious extra points for the title championship led to controversy. Max Verstappen ran Hamilton wide at Turn 4, sending them both him off track. Nevertheless, was it a race accident or was it worthy of getting a penalty?
The stewards noted the accident but took no action against it and Mercedes decided to appeal against it, bringing some new evidence, before the official start of the Qatar GP, which appeared on Christian Horner’s birthday. But what are the drivers’ opinion about the matter?
Asked about that, Sebastian Vettel made clear that a penalty would be “a bit unnecessary”:
“They were fighting for the lead, so it's obviously the biggest fight going on in every race – he stated – I’m not involved. But I think it's a bit unnecessary.”
Alpine’s driver Alonso prefers to stay neutral but he doubts that further actions will be taken. “Nothing should happen now, - the Spaniard said – I don't know exactly if it was too bad, but the stewards, they considered that there was no penalty there, there will be no penalty, I guess.”
According to Daniel Ricciardo, his former teammate’s behaviour was understandable, as Red Bull’s driver though reaction was to keep the leading of an important race for the championship. “Whether the move was call it right or wrong, fighting for a win and I guess the championship at this stage, you're going to try and fight as long as you can, and try to do everything you can to hold onto that lead,” - the Australian commented. “Obviously that one took them both off, so maybe that was over the limit. I'd say it's too hard, because no one made the corner. So you could say that. But I think the approach is unchanged. I'm not in that position, fighting for a world title, I think you're going to fight to the end. I don't know if that will change if that happened again.”
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc calls himself ready to change his driving if Verstappen is not going to be punished for that manoeuvre, as he already did.
“As soon as I knew that it wasn't a penalty for Max in Austria, I came to Silverstone and I changed my driving. So I think that's a bit the same for every driver, we will always try to race at the limits of what we're allowed to do – he explains – And that's what I will do if in case these these things are allowed. Austria it was a bit of a different situation again, and after that we could race a bit harder, which I think was good for F1, for the show. This situation was another one. I'll leave it to the stewards to just see what they think.”
The only one who sides Mercedes stating that Red Bull has to be penalised is, unsurprisingly, George Russell, who will be a Mercedes driver from the next season. “Whether there’ll be a penalty for it retrospectively, I don’t know. Should there have been a penalty at the time? I believe they should have been. Because you can’t just break 25 metres later than you do on every other lap and force the other guy off the road. That’s not fair racing. It’s harder racing but it’s not fair racing.” - he pointed out, paraphrasing Verstappen’s statement, in which he defined his manoeuvre as “I though it was though, fair racing”.
However, the decision is up to the stewards. And that is going to be a controversial one in either case.