Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel has defended Max Verstappen’s reaction following his clash with Esteban Ocon which lost him victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix and triggered a physical confrontation between the pair after the race. Verstappen was handed a two-day ‘community service’ order from the FIA Stewards after aggressively confronting Ocon and pushing him after the Interlagos race following the pair’s on-track clash.
Ocon had attempted to unlap himself against Verstappen, who was leading the race at the time, but they collided which allowed Lewis Hamilton to dart into the lead and claim victory.
Sebastian Vettel, who was handed the same punishment by the FIA after banging wheels with Lewis Hamilton after accusing him of brake testing under the safety car at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, feels Verstappen’s emotions were understandable in the situation as it “means the world to us” as it “it’s a job, but it’s our lives”: “I think we have emotions, we are human beings and emotions go both ways” – Sebastian Vettel explained at the press conference ahead of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – “They go full of joy when something good happens and they probably swing the other way if you’re not happy or upset. I think it’s clear that we’re here to fight something that means the world to us, I don’t know how much it means to you because to you most of you, for people watching, it’s a show they’re watching. For the people reporting about the show it’s their job. For us it’s a job, but it’s our lives and we all started racing when we were small kids in go karts and to be in a Formula 1 car is the dream that we all had to race a Formula 1 car and then to fight for wins so that’s something big at stake. It’s not like you get a piece of cake when you’ve done well and you don’t when you didn’t so there’s a lot at stake and I think that explains the emotions.” – he added.
Sebastian Vettel also accepts that after the heat of the moment it is important to breakdown the situation having learnt from his own previous experiences of high-profile clashes: “I think emotions are a part of sports, I think they will always be,” he said. “Obviously you have certain situations that give you the opportunity to talk about it a lot afterwards. I’ve been in that situation as well, but I think for us it’s very clear that the pendulum swings both ways.” – the German driver concluded.