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Verstappen: "Irresponsible" Leclerc deserved instant clash penalty

Max Verstappen has labelled Charles Leclerc's driving in the Japanese Grand Prix as "irresponsible", saying he 'doesn't understand' the Formula 1 stewards' decision not to immediately penalise the Ferrari driver

Leclerc had started the race from second on the grid but got a poor getaway, while Verstappen was able to sweep his Red Bull past the fourth-starting Lewis Hamilton to gain an advantage heading into Turn 2.

But the Ferrari driver ran deep into the corner before going wide, then colliding with Verstappen and forcing him off the track.

The stewards initially deemed the collision a racing incident that did not require an investigation, before reopening the case some laps later to be looked into after the race.

NEWS UPDATE: Leclerc gets double penalty

Verstappen ultimately retired his Red Bull on lap 15.

"At Turn 2, Charles just drove into the side of my car," Verstappen told Sky.

"From my side I don't think I could have done anything different there.

"We all know that you lose downforce behind a car so that is not an excuse, he's experienced enough to know that.

"For me, the weird thing is that initially they don't investigate it - the whole car was destroyed, there were just holes in the side of the car.

"Now they've started to investigate it but it's after the race. What more should he do to get a penalty?

"I like hard racing but this wasn't hard racing, just irresponsible driving.

"They had a bad start so he was trying to recover but there's only so much you can do in a very long race. It's a shame that it happened."

Leclerc did not attribute blame to Verstappen for the incident after the race and said it was a "tricky situation" that he would need to see a replay of.

"Obviously I understeered being behind Seb and Lewis, and then we touched," said Leclerc.

"I don't know what happened from the full situation from the outside, and this I need to look at.

"From the car it was just a tricky situation."

Sebastian Vettel was also briefly under investigation for a jumped start, but ultimately escaped a penalty - with this adding to what Verstappen saw as the inconsistency from the FIA.

"Also, just watching the footage back from Seb's start, he moves, he stops - the rules say you cannot move," said Verstappen.

"It's fine because he didn't gain an advantage there?

"I really don't understand what's going on today with the rules."

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