[Updated] Max Verstappen has said that he does not regret what he did in Austin in passing Kimi Raikkonen the way he did, nor speaking out afterwards although he does feel that the words he used, criticising the FIA race stewards, were “not correct”.
He later apologised to the FIA for his choice of words and said that he had not meant to single out any one individual in his criticisms.
Verstappen was furious to be removed from the podium after fighting his way from 16th to 3rd, with a last gasp overtake on Kimi Raikkonen, but the stewards felt he gained an unfair advantage by cutting the inside of the corner.
“The thoughts are pretty similar; it was a great race. The pace of the car was great now three times in a row and I hope to continue here in Mexico,” said the 20 year old Dutchman.
He was critical of the Race Direction and stewards in Austin for not giving any guidance on the track limits throughout the weekend and for punishing only him for exceeding them, when he felt everyone had done so all weekend.
“They never told us anything, from practice one everyone was running wide and they didn’t say anything,” he said.
“He (Kimi) tried to close the door and the Austin track gives the chance to run inside. First I tried to avoid an accident and then to overtake him.”
“After a race emotions run high when you have been taken off a podium. The punishment was not correct because many people were going off the track if I was really gaining and advantage i would do it every single lap. Other people were cutting the corner and
“I could have used different words but I still think the punishment was not correct. I was angry at that time. You have to understand my point. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone but the words were not correct.
“But that’s the way I am; I’m not going to hold back.”
Sergio Perez supported Verstappen confirming that there was no guidance from the Race Director or Stewards during the weekend.
FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon in Mexico.
“I think the accusations of inconsistency are pretty much without foundation – the only time that it was absolutely clear that the driver gained an advantage [in Austin], the driver was duly penalised and that is really where we are coming from, I believe,” he said. “We have to try to take a practical approach to this – there is an element of wanting to let the drivers race. It is only when it is absolutely clear that the stewards need to get involved.
“Leaving the track is not an offence in itself but if a driver does so he must rejoin the track safety and without gaining any lasting advantage. Those words are really important in this case.
“There were a number of occasions when drivers left the track during race and practice that were not formally looked at by stewards purely because no lasting advantage was gained.
Asked why he had decided to commit to Red Bull Racing until the end of 2020, rather than see what possibilities may exist at Ferrari or Mercedes, Verstappen said, “I feel good at the team and the improvements we made this year are the most of the whole grid. We will start better next year and I believe in the team. What’s also important is to have people around you who support you. Why would I give that up? If we can improve the horsepower then we can be competitive.”
Verstappen added he would like Daniel Ricciardo to remain with the team ideally. Sebastian Vettel also said in the FIA press conference in Mexico that he would not mind racing alongside Ricciardo in 2019.
Alonso goes into 24 hour endurance racing
Fernando Alonso meanwhile will start his 24 hour racing career with an assault on the Daytona 24 hours next January with Zak Brown’s United Autosports team. He will partner McLaren junior driver Lando Norris, the reigning FIA F3 champion in what is sure to be a wonderful learning experience for the youngster from Bristol.
They will be joined by Phil Hanson, who is the reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 Champion, who raced the Ligier sportscar they will campaign, having raced it in the European Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2017.
Testing at Daytona will be 5-7 January with the 24 hour race two weeks later on 26-27 January.
“My aim is to be a complete driver and this experience will help me in the preparation for any other endurance race I might take part in,” said Alonso, who has already hinted that he will be racing at the Le Mans 24 hours before too long. He hinted last month and time will tell whether he confirms his presence on the grid in the 2018 Le Mans, perhaps after getting a taster in Daytona and dependent on how competitive the 2018 McLaren Renault proves to be.
“Before I went to Indy, I had never driven on an oval, now I know what an oval is and how to deal with it. I am excited to go back and race in America.”
Alonso’s peers commented on the move, “It’s a good experience for Fernando. Probably he will think of Le Mans.It’s a race you would like to do. My brother did it last year (Daytona) it’s an amazing venue and a race I would like to do,” said Sergio Perez.
“If I like it I may do it, but I would only want to do it with my Dad,” said Verstappen. “But the priority is to stay in F1 as long as possible.”
“All the best !” said Vettel. “If you look back in the past drivers used to race a lot more in different cars which I find pretty cool. You had to be able to adapt. Now the sport is very professional but I quite like the idea to drive more in different cars.”