Mexico City - Dutch
teenager Max Verstappen launched an astonishing verbal attack on
four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the wake of their stormy battle
in the closing laps of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton’s win was the 51st of his career and kept alive his
title defence and reduced Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s lead to 19
points with two races remaining. Rosberg finished second.
His triumph also represented Mercedes record 17th win in a season.
However, their celebrations were almost drowned out by the row that
raged in the aftermath of a stormy battle between the Ferrari and Red
Bull teams in the closing laps.
This saw Verstappen, who finished third before being handed a five
seconds penalty that relegated him to fifth, clash with Vettel on and
off the track where he had refused to concede a position when he locked
up his brakes and ran off circuit, gaining an advantage that infuriated
Verstappen joined the Mercedes duo in the pre-podium room before
leaving with the arrival of Vettel flanked by a group of Ferrari team
members. Despite threats, no punches were thrown.
Vettel’s language on Ferrari team radio was so laden in profanities
that the team chief Maurizio Arrivabene eventually had to tell him to
stop talking and calm down after he had lambasted not only Red Bull
driver Verstappen, but also the Race Director Charlie Whiting.
"He has to give me the position - end of story," said Vettel, having
referred to Whiting saying “here is the message for Charlie - fuck
off, Honestly fuck off.”
In response Arrivabene said: "Sebastian, Sebastian, calm down, calm
down. They are under investigation. I know that it is not fair but calm
down. Put your head down and we talk afterwards."
Verstappen, 19, said that Vettel “should go back to school” to be taught not to swear so much.
Talking about the incident in which went off at Turn One and
rejoined, he said: “I think it is pretty similar to what happened when
Lewis went off and got a massive advantage and when Nico went off, when
we touched (on the opening lap).
“I didn't even get an advantage. I was the same length in front so I
think it's ridiculous. They thought I had to give it back (the place),
but it was never confirmed.
“I was not backing him up, I was just trying to do the best I can.
They don't give a penalty for Nico - don't give me a penalty at the end
of the race!
“I saw the footage. At least I can do it in a good way. It is
ridiculous what he did - and then he starts shouting on the radio. I
don't know how many times he is using very bad language.
“I will speak to him because this is how ridiculous he is handling it. He is just a very frustrated guy at the moment."
Vettel’s radio rant, punctuated by a near-incessant series of bleep,
bleep, bleeping, was an immediate classic moment in modern F1
transmissions, repeated by broadcasters and social media.
“I don’t think there is anything I have to say to him,” he said later.
“I think it was very clear. I was very emotional and I have asked
already to go and see Charlie Whiting - when you are in the car, I was
full of adrenaline because it is not right what Max did. I was getting
upset as you can imagine.”
Vettel was trapped between the two Red Bulls in the closing stages
when Verstappen ‘backed him up’ to make him vulnerable to an attack from
his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was equally angry at the unfolding
of events at the end of the race.
Speaking to his Ferrari race engineer Riccardo Adami and team chief
Arrivabene, Vettel’s comments on the radio included him not only
swearing frequently and directly about Whiting, but adding: “Honestly,
I’m going to hit someone.”