Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel wants to speak to Max Verstappen in private, rather than get involved in a public war of words, about his defensive driving in Formula 1. The Maranello team’s driver felt that his Red Bull rival had been too aggressive in trying to hold on to third place in the Japanese Grand Prix as Vettel tried a move down the inside at Spoon Curve on lap nine.
The pair collided and Sebastian Vettel spun to the tail of the field. With Verstappen having also clashed with the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap of the race, Vettel believes that a conversation with the Dutchman is needed: “He is quick, but it doesn’t help also the way he came back onto the track with Kimi,” said Vettel, when asked about Verstappen’s attitude to racing rivals – “I don’t want this to end up as ‘Seb says this, Max says this’. I will talk about it with him when it is the right time, so this is the way I would prefer. But you ask me these questions so I give you my answer.”
Sebastian remains adamant that his move at Spoon was not overly ambitious, and dismisses suggestions he should have waited for a better moment knowing that Verstappen already had a five-second penalty for the Raikkonen incident: “What do you think about how many times you can afford to wait?” he told reporters. “Obviously I am racing not just him. I am racing also the guys in front ideally. His battery was derating. I saw the light flashing, I saved up my battery on the way up through the Esses trying to stay close, and I had a good exit from the hairpin. I had a big tow through Turn 12, and was side-by-side when we hit the brakes and turn in. I had similar encounters with others and we managed to make it through the corner. It is not the prime overtaking spot, but if you are side-by-side then I think it is fair in that scenario and that occasion. I did my best to try to avoid contact but if he kept closing then where am I supposed to go?” – he added.
Sebastian Vettel thinks Verstappen had enough opportunity to avoid the accident, and reckons his rival even came off the brakes to try to make things more difficult: “The problem was that as soon as he saw I was side-by-side, he opened the brakes, and tried to push,” he said – “But I think that is wrong. I don’t think he makes the corner either [if he does that]. He just looks at me, but he should keep the overview of the track and we should both try to make the corner in the first place, and then work out who is inside/outside.” – Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel concluded.