Why Verstappen escaped a punishment like Vettel's for Austria move

Judging Max Verstappen's Austrian Grand Prix-winning move on Charles Leclerc alongside recent controversial Formula 1 penalties such as Sebastian Vettel's in Canada has been dismissed as comparing "apples and oranges"

Why Verstappen escaped a punishment like Vettel's for Austria move

Verstappen escaped punishment after he and Leclerc made wheel-to-wheel contact that pushed Leclerc off-track while fighting for the win in Austria, as the stewards believed both drivers had a role to play in the incident.

The clash has been compared to controversial five-second penalties applied at the previous two races in Canada, where Vettel lost victory, and France, where Daniel Ricciardo lost points.

Those incidents sparked major debate over what should and should not be allowed in F1 and drew severe criticism for the championship as well.

After the decision not to punish Verstappen, Ferrari F1 team boss Mattia Binotto said "clear rules" exist to prevent drivers in Leclerc's position being forced off the road and that "exactly the same rules which have been applied in past races".

When asked by Autosport to explain the difference between the Austria lead battle incident and those in Canada and France, FIA F1 race director Michael Masi said comparing such incidents was "effectively trying to compare apples and oranges".

In the cases of Vettel and Ricciardo, penalties were applied because they were judged to have forced their rival off-track after going off the circuit themselves.

Vettel went off while leading in Montreal and bounced across the grass, then was deemed to have rejoined unsafely and forced Lewis Hamilton wide as the Mercedes driver tried to pass him.

At Paul Ricard, Ricciardo attempted to make a pass on Lando Norris but ran deep into the chicane, went off-track with all four wheels but still tried to keep the inside line for the second part of the corner, which forced Norris to go off-track on the outside.

Unlike Vettel, Verstappen was making a legitimate overtaking attempt when his incident occurred, and unlike Ricciardo, Verstappen remained in control of the car at all times and did not leave the circuit.

"Each and every incident needs to be considered on its own merit, different corners, different profiles, different circumstances," said Masi.

"Trying to compare the three of them, they are three very different incidents.

"In the stewards' view it was a racing incident.

"It was just good, hard racing from the perspective they saw."

Verstappen had tried to pass Leclerc on the previous lap at the same place, the Turn 3 right-hander at the top of the hill, but Leclerc held on around the outside.

When asked by Autosport to talk through the incident, Masi suggested that the stewards felt Verstappen had "learned what had happened a lap earlier" and the nature of the move was fundamentally different second time around.

"He went into the corner, braked later, Charles obviously saw him coming and stayed out wide," said Masi.

"And Max, in braking a lot later, 'late-apexed' and at all times was pretty much on full lock and tried to power out.

"The thing that happened the lap previously didn't occur again."

In making their decision, the panel of four stewards - which included Le Mans 24 Hours legend Tom Kristensen - looked at previous incidents and past precedent.

This included the clash between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Austria three years ago, at the same corner as Verstappen and Leclerc collided.

On that occasion, Rosberg - on the inside, like Verstappen - was punished, but again the incident was considered different because Rosberg was trying to defend the position not make an overtake.

"The big difference between the footage I've seen of the two is that Nico looked across on that occasion," added Masi.

"Whereas Max is very much focusing on the corner and getting out of it as quickly as possible."

shares
comments
Horner: Verstappen Austrian GP penalty would've been incomprehensible

Previous article

Horner: Verstappen Austrian GP penalty would've been incomprehensible

Next article

Mercedes explains "painful" Austria Formula 1 cooling issues

Mercedes explains "painful" Austria Formula 1 cooling issues
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Sebastian Vettel , Jos Verstappen , Max Verstappen
Author Scott Mitchell
How Ferrari plans to recover from its 2020 F1 nightmare Plus

How Ferrari plans to recover from its 2020 F1 nightmare

The 2020 Formula 1 season was Ferrari's worst for 40 years as it slumped to sixth in the standings. A repeat performance will not be acceptable for the proud Italian team, which has adopted a notably pragmatic approach to forging its path back to the top

Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery Plus

Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery

In the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 team launch of the season, the rebranded Aston Martin squad’s changes go much further than the striking paint job. But rather than a restart, the team hopes to build on top of solid foundations.

Formula 1
Mar 3, 2021
The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with Plus

The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with

The team formerly known as Racing Point gambled successfully on a Mercedes look-alike in 2020 as it mounted a strong challenge for third in the constructors' race and won the Sakhir GP. Now clothed in British racing green, Aston Martin's first Formula 1 challenger since 1960 provides the clearest indicator yet of what to expect from the new-for-2021 regulations

Formula 1
Mar 3, 2021
The driver problems facing Mercedes in 2021 Plus

The driver problems facing Mercedes in 2021

Ahead of the new Formula 1 season, reigning world champions Mercedes will take on challenges both old and new. This also can be said for its driver conundrum which could become key to sustaining its ongoing success

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front Plus

How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front

A new name, new faces and new colours pulls the rebranded Alpine Formula 1 team into a new era while carrying over core elements of its 2020 car. But under the surface there's more than meets the eye with the A521 which hints at how the team will tackle 2021

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown? Plus

Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown?

Replacing Formula 1's fastest car was never going to be an easy feat for Mercedes. Amid the technical rule tweaks to peg back the W12 and its 2021 rivals, the new Mercedes challenger will remain the target to beat

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
The big F1 questions of 2021 Plus

The big F1 questions of 2021

After an unprecedented season last year, there are plenty of questions and storylines for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign. Sky Sports F1 pundit Karun Chandhok gives his verdict

Formula 1
Mar 1, 2021
The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era Plus

The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era

Ferrari is starting its post-Sebastian Vettel age by welcoming Carlos Sainz Jr in alongside Charles Leclerc. But while Sainz has a tough challenge to match his new team-mate, Ferrari is also sending a message that previous intra-team spats must end

Formula 1
Mar 1, 2021