Max Verstappen has downplayed his confrontation with Formula 1 rival Esteban Ocon following Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, saying “nothing happened” despite video footage emerging of him pushing the Force India driver.
Verstappen was left aggrieved after being spun by the lapped Ocon while leading the race at Interlagos, causing him to drop to second place and sustain damage to his Red Bull car.
After crossing the line second behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen confronted Ocon in the FIA garage while the driver weight checks were taking place, with video footage showing him pushing Ocon multiple times.
“I went to him to ask, and he just gave me a stupid response from his side,” Verstappen said when asked about the push.
“When you are emotional and stuff like that, and I’m a racer as well.
“At the end of the day, nothing happened. I don’t know what his problem is.”
Speaking about the incident on-track, Verstappen called out Ocon for taking a “stupid risk” in trying to unlap himself, for which the Force India driver received a 10-second stop/go penalty and three penalty points on his license.
“It was stupid, stupid risk. Of course you are allowed to unlap yourself, but I mean it’s really weird how that happened,” Verstappen said.
“I think the penalty says enough from his side, so from me there’s not much more to comment.”
Both Ocon and Verstappen were called to the stewards over the incident in the FIA office. Later, the Dutchman was sentenced to 2 days of public service for instigating a fight. Meanwhile, Ocon was already punished when he took a 10-second stop-go penalty during the race.
The incident also brought back memories of the 1998 Belgian GP when Michael Schumacher brawled with David Coulthard. Also, Nelson Piquet fought with Eliseo Salazar during the 1982 German Grand Prix.