Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has come to the defence of Max Verstappen following the driver’s clashes with Esteban Ocon on and off the track at last weekend’s Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen lost the lead in Brazil following a collision with Force India’s Ocon on the 44th lap of the race. This pushed the Red Bull driver into a second-place finish with Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton winning at Interlagos.
After the race finished a furious Verstappen confronted Ocon in the driver weighing-in room. The 21-year-old Dutchman shoved his French rival three times before the pair were split up by officials.
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The FIA has confirmed that Verstappen will be required to do two days of “public service” for his part in the off-track incident.
Red Bull boss Horner defended Verstappen for his actions and said that emotions were running high in Brazil. Quoted by Sky Sports, Horner said: “I don’t think it got out of hand. Through the irresponsible actions of a backmarker we’ve lost a grand prix, and it just wasn’t handled at all well by Ocon. It was totally irresponsible to be racing Max.
“Of course we don’t condone violence in any way but you have to understand that emotions are running very high.
“Drivers aren’t robots at the end of the day and nor should they be. One can understand emotions in the heat of the moment. Of course, there’s a human reaction in these competitive animals that are Formula 1 drivers.”
‘Brainless act’ by Ocon
Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes that Verstappen is showing “exactly why he’s tipped as a future champion” and thinks he would have won his second race in a row had it not been for the collision with Ocon.
Writing in his column for the BBC, Palmer said: “His drive in Brazil was stunning yet again, and it comes off the back of his drives to second from 18th on the grid in the US Grand Prix, and of course his dominant win in Mexico. The Dutchman has always been quick, but now he is cutting out his mistakes and racing with much better judgement than earlier in the year.
“He would have had two wins on the bounce had it not been for one of the most brainless acts of driving I’ve seen in a long time in Formula 1, from Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
“Ocon is super-talented, and it’s a real shame he’s not going to be on the grid in 2019, but his collision with Verstappen put a real taint on his driving skill.
“His move on Verstappen on Sunday was just plain wrong.”
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