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Formula 1

Do F1 stewards let Verstappen get away with too much?

by Jack Cozens
2 min read

The Race Members Club

After every Formula 1 grand prix, our journalists answer questions from The Race Members’ Club in The Race F1 Podcast.

In the Austrian GP episode, Sebastiano Russo referenced two impeding incidents involving world champion Max Verstappen during the weekend’s qualifying sessions, neither of which earned a penalty. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, however, was convinced Verstappen made a point of ruining Lewis Hamilton’s final lap in SQ1 – where he was eliminated – as an act of revenge for having his own lap spoilt.

“The stewards always seem to be very lenient when it comes to Max Verstappen – impeding Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton this weekend, and many more throughout his career,” Russo wrote.

“What are your thoughts about it? I think it’s even worse when he does justice by himself, as in sprint qualifying on Hamilton.”

Here’s what Mark Hughes and Edd Straw made of that suggestion when it was put to them in the podcast:

Mark Hughes: “The incident with Hamilton was initiated – inadvertently – by Hamilton ruining the end of Max’s lap. So two wrongs don’t make a right, but it’s not just out of nowhere.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Day Spielberg, Austria

“Max is very easily triggered in situations where he feels he’s hard done by and his reactions are quick – an eye for an eye sort of thing. And it’s done straight away. We saw that with Sergio Perez in the sprint too, he wants it sorted out straight away.

“But I don’t really think that he’s been treated any differently by the stewards than any other driver really. You hear this from fans of one driver or another about the rival of that driver. It’s like listening to a Liverpool fan talking about the referee being in favour of Manchester United and the Man Utd fan thinking the opposite. I don’t see any difference.”

Edd Straw: “I think sometimes in situations like that, where there’s a little bit of – shall we say – natural balance, the stewards are a little bit more willing to let it go because it played out the way it did with both being impeded.

“Admittedly ultimately it was more costly for Hamilton but he obviously clearly impeded Verstappen as well. So you kind of get where it all came from.”

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