Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Max Verstappen defends Esteban Ocon altercation at Brazilian Grand Prix

Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen
Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen collided on lap 44 of 71 of the Brazilian Grand Prix when Verstappen was leading

Max Verstappen has defended his "normal response" after he shoved Esteban Ocon when the Frenchman had denied him a likely win at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, 21, was leading on lap 44 when backmarker Ocon tried to un-lap himself and the pair collided.

The Dutchman spun and lost the lead to Lewis Hamilton, eventually coming second, before pushing Ocon in the chest three times after the race.

"It could have been much worse," said the Red Bull driver on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference before the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen added: "What do you expect me to do? Shake his hand and say 'thank you very much for making me second instead of first'? I think it is quite a normal response.

"We are all emotional and at the time I had lost a victory. Pushing, in any sport, it happens. I actually saw it a few days ago in football again. So from my side, I thought it was quite a calm response."

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen (right) and Esteban Ocon (left) appeared in the same news conference on Thursday, with the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel (second left) and Kimi Raikkonen in the middle

He remonstrated with Ocon in the driver weighing area after the race and both drivers were then called to see the stewards to explain the incident.

Verstappen was ordered to carry out two days of public service to atone for "making deliberate physical contact with" Ocon, who was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for the collision during the race.

Verstappen said he only reacted the way he did because of something the Force India driver said.

"You don't hear what is said, you just see me pushing. I was after an apology and I got a bit of a different response," Verstappen added.

"But if you understand the whole conversation you will see it as a bit different. He said something that I didn't expect to hear. It doesn't matter what it was.

"I don't expect to crash with a backmarker. If you get hit like that, I honestly don't understand what I should do differently."

Ocon, who will not be driving in Formula 1 in 2019, said: "It's not a great thing to be involved with a crash with the leader. It's not a thing you want to see and I'm sorry for Max.

"It was his race to win, he did a fantastic job during the whole race. We have to move forwards in what happened. We can't change the past."

How to follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

All times GMT. Broadcast times are subject to change at short notice.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Thursday, 22 NovemberPreview20:30-21:00BBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 23 NovemberFirst practice08:55-10:35BBC Sport onlineFrom 08:30
Second practice12:55-14:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 12:30
Saturday, 24 NovemberFinal practice09:55-11:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 09:30 (continuous)
Qualifying12:55-14:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Sunday, 25 NovemberRace13:00-15:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 11:30
Monday, 26 NovemberReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 live

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