Verstappen annoyed with Leclerc after Lap 1 clash

Suzuka, Japan

Japanese Grand Prix – Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen says he thinks Charles Leclerc’s start was ‘irresponsible’ after the pair clashed on Lap 1.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired from the Japanese Grand Prix on Lap 15, having picked up damage on the first lap after he and Charles Leclerc made contact at Turn 2. Verstappen was on the outside of the Ferrari driver after making a good start, and was trying to make the pass stick when Leclerc drove into the Red Bull’s right rear corner.

Verstappen was pitched sideways across the grass, while Leclerc’s front wing was damaged. Leclerc pitted for repairs and recovered to finish P6, while Verstappen pitted and fell down to P17 before Red Bull opted to retire him.

Verstappen, obviously annoyed with the situation, said he felt Leclerc’s driving had been irresponsible: “I just stayed on the outside. I felt like I was in third but then suddenly into Turn 2, Charles just drove into the side of my car.”

The incident is now under investigation, with both drivers going to the race stewards to explain their side of the story. Verstappen says he doesn’t think he did anything too wrong: “From my side, I don’t think I could have done anything differently there. We all know that you lose out when behind a car so it’s not an excuse.”

“I think he is experienced enough to know that. Then, to me the weird thing is, initially, they didn’t even investigate it. I mean – my whole car is destroyed, the whole side. Just holes in the side of the car. Then they start to investigate it but now it’s after the race. What more should we do to get a penalty? I mean, I like hard racing but I don’t think this is hard racing. It was irresponsible driving into Turn 2. I mean they had a bad start and he was trying to recover places. There is only do much we can do and its still a very long race. It’s a shame that it happened.”

Continuing to criticise how the rules were applied, Verstappen also singled out the false start for Vettel that went unpunished: ” Just watching back the footage back to Sebs’ start. I mean – he moves, he stops. In the rules, it says you cannot move. Thats fine, because he did not gain an advantage they say, so I really don’t understand whats going on today with the rules.”

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Thomas Maher

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