Max Verstappen: Red Bull driver stays firm on driving style

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Monza
Max Verstappen
Verstappen is the youngest driver to ever win an F1 race

Max Verstappen says he will not change his style despite criticism from rivals that he is over-aggressive.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen said the 18-year-old Red Bull driver would cause "a massive accident sooner or later" if he does not change.

He made his comments after the battle between them in Belgium last Sunday.

Verstappen said before this weekend's Italian Grand Prix: "It is not because others tell me I have to change my driving style that I will change."

He added: "Let's say you put [Manchester United striker Zlatan] Ibrahimovic up as a defender, would he like it just because other people think he's a better defender? I don't think he will listen to those guys. If he likes to attack, he wants to attack."

Max Verstappen (left) collided with the two Ferrari drivers at La Source hairpin at the start of the Belgium Grand Prix
Max Verstappen (left) collided with the two Ferrari drivers at La Source hairpin at the start of the Belgium Grand Prix

Raikkonen repeated on Thursday that Verstappen's driving was "not correct".

The 2007 world champion said: "I have nothing against Max. He is doing a good job and he is fast but there are certain things that are not correct if you have to slow down and brake at full speed."

The incident in question happened on the 200mph Kemmel straight on the Spa-Francorchamps track.

Raikkonen was attacking Verstappen, who waited in the middle of the track before moving to defend when the Ferrari driver made his decision which side to attack.

Many drivers feel Verstappen's move was too late to be acceptable.

There is no specific rule about moving late in defence, although article 27.8 of the sporting regulations states: "Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted."

Raikkonen called for more consistency from stewards as to how they police such incidents.

"It's quite clear what the rules are. Sometimes you feel it is not correct what happens on the circuit but the biggest problem is that it is not always the same," he said.

"We always discuss it and it is a bit up and down and that could be improved."

Raikkonen and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel have discussed their concerns about Verstappen's driving in private with FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting on Thursday, while the issue is also expected to be raised in the drivers' briefing on Friday afternoon.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg said: "It's a difficult one. Important is to be consistent with the judgements. That is always going to be difficult because no situation is the same, but it can always be improved.

"We have seen some inconsistencies recently and Max is on the limit. It's obvious with Kimi having to hit the brakes full on on the flat-out straight otherwise there would have been a shunt. That needs to be discussed and I'm sure it will be a big topic in the meeting."

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso thought the move was just about acceptable.

He said Verstappen had moved "very late" but that because it was only the one move allowed in the rules "everything fits".

The two-time champion added that he had been more upset by Verstappen's controversial defence of his position against Raikkonen in July's Hungarian Grand Prix because he had changed line while in the braking zone.

Alonso said all other drivers agreed this was not acceptable and they had discussed this in their briefing at the following race in Germany.

Subscribe to the BBC Sport newsletter to get our pick of news, features and video sent to your inbox.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC