Formula 1 director of motorsports Ross Brawn says that Max Verstappen is still not able to keep his emotions under control, despite having been in F1 for almost five years.
Brawn was critical of the Red Bull driver following the events during and immediately after Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen spun out of the lead of the race after contact with Force India’s Esteban Ocon and subsequently had a physical altercation with the Frenchman at the FIA weighing station.
“The incident with Ocon was a cruel moment,” Brawn said in his regular post-race media briefing. “Max vented his anger in parc fermé, making physical contact with Ocon.
“It was not an edifying sight,” he conceded. “Though understandable, it was of course not justifiable.
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“[He] is still not able to manage his emotions in these situations, an essential next step,” he said. “Having said that, one mustn’t forget he is still very young.
“While his conduct wasn’t justifiable, we can all understand the frustration he felt after the incident and again at the end of the race.
“I’m sure Max will learn from what happened and that everything that happened, including the penalty he was given, will contribute to his development as a driver and mainly as a man.”
But Brawn was by no means entirely critical of the Dutch driver, and was quick to praise “an amazing performance” from Verstappen during the race.
Starting from fourth place he was able to make brilliant passes on Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas before successfully challenging Lewis Hamilton for the race lead on lap 19.
“It’s not every day you drive past two Ferraris and two Mercedes,” he acknowledged. “Over the past 10 years, no-one has won the Brazilian Grand Prix from further back than the second row – but Max came very close on Sunday.”
He added that the way Verstappen had gathered himself together after his spin to hold on to second place “showed he has made enormous progress in his career.”
Brawn was less happy with Ocon’s role in the incident. The Force India has been lapped after his pit stop on lap 40, and was attempting to unlap himself by overtaking Verstappen through the Senna Esses.
“[Ocon] was entirely justified in trying to unlap himself,” Brawn said. “[But] given that he was clearly quicker at that moment, it has to be said there was no reason to take on Verstappen as though he was fighting for his first win in Formula 1.
“He deserved the 10-second stop-and-go penalty he was given in the race,” he added.
Brawn didn’t think there was any ‘conspiracy’ or personal animosity involved in Ocon’s collision with Verstappen
“I don’t think that Ocon was simply thinking of trying to get in the points,” he said. “I believe it was more the case that he was caught up in the moment and didn’t think it through.
“Fighting to the death with the race leader might not have been the best plan, even when that driver is one with whom you had some spirited fights in the lower formulae.”
“Overall, Sunday was a lesson for both Verstappen and Ocon,” he summarised. “One they won’t forget in a hurry. It’s just another part of their learning curve.”
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