Esteban Ocon, Manor, Monza, 2016

Verstappen’s still doing what he did in F3 – Ocon

2016 Italian Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon says Max Verstappen made the same defensive moves for which he is now being criticised when the pair raced in European Formula Three two years ago.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2016
How F1 could stamp out the ‘Verstappen block’
The Red Bull driver’s former F3 rival said Verstappen’s moves were at the limit of acceptability but agreed they are within the rules.

“Normally there is a clear rule which says you have to move only once with the line,” Ocon told Sky at Monza. “But it doesn’t say that you have to move early enough that the guys can move the other way.”

“Max is in between this rule, it’s on the limit, but it’s fine because there hasn’t been a crash or anything. So he’s getting away with it. And each time in F3 he was doing the same and he was getting away also with it.”

Verstappen finished third in F3 during his first year of single-seater competition after moving up from karts. He won ten of the 33 rounds but finished third in the standings while Ocon won nine times and claimed the title.

While Verstappen signed by Red Bull before the season ended and made his F1 debut the following year, Ocon made his grand prix debut with Manor at Spa last weekend.

Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen, European F3 race two start, Spa, 2014
Ocon and Verstappen duelling at Spa in 2014
Ahead of the Monza weekend Ocon described his excitement at racing at the home of the Italian Grand Prix. “It’s such an amazing circuit, with so much history,” he said.

“I raced here in GP3 last year, so that’s good preparation, although the feeling with an F1 car is quite different and going out for the first time will be pretty special.”

“What was so great about the race in Spa was that I had so many situations to deal with; it was an eventful race. I feel like I can roll all of that experience and learning into a much stronger weekend. I love the fast circuits, and I hope I can do well here.”

2016 Italian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Verstappen’s still doing what he did in F3 – Ocon”

  1. I have nothing agains Max but this “Verstappen blocking” has to stop. It’s killing racing and makes everyone dislike him. It’s a fine line but he’s almost over it. He did crash himself on somewhat similar situation in Monaco, into the first corner.

    1. He is copying Grosjean isn’t he.
      Grosjean did the same in Monaco 2014 and Max crashed into him.
      Max got punished, right or wrong but the kid is a very fast learner.

      1. No, it’s different. The telemetry investigation showed that Grosjean actually brake a bit later than the previous lap, it was another case of Verstappen silly mistake (wrong judgement of his and another driver speed). The only same thing with that incident is Max don’t feel he did anything wrong.

        1. “Max don’t feel he did anything wrong.”

          Jos raised him like that, now Marko’s reinforcing that.

          1. Jos actually raised him to be highly critical towards himself, particularly because Jos knew hwcould have done with more of that in his own career. But he will hardly share that with the world

    2. @f1lauri Please read your comment again, and again. “It’s killing racing and makes everyone dislike him”. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.

      First of all: it’s a fact (right or wrong) that these moves are bringing tension and action to the race. Second: even Kimi stated in today’s press conference that he “has nothing against Max” and that he “does a great job”, he only asked for the rules to be handled the same each time. So he doesn’t dislike him.

      So the real issues for Kimi and this “blocking” is in the race stewards, these are different guys every race. Some of them are strict, others aren’t. That’s why in race X someone gets penalised for something less dangerous and in race Y someone gets away with a more dangerous manoeuvre.

      Also, regarding disliking Max: Christian Horner recently said in an interview that Max is bringing more fans to F1, not just Spa (which isn’t even his home race, but close enough), but F1 in general. The same thing Schumacher did for Germany for instance (but I don’t compare Max to Michael in any other way, yet).

      It can be a personal preference of course, but I like drivers who attack, drive aggressive and on the limit. It’s the highest form of motorsport on four wheels, let’s not forget that. Therefore I’ve always liked drivers such as Senna, Schumacher, Montoya, Raikkonen, Hamilton and now Verstappen. And disliked complaining drivers such as Webber, Vettel and Kvyat. Yeah, the former names have all made ridiculous crashes and mistakes, but has Messi never missed a penalty or received a red card for going over the limit? We don’t want robots, we want drivers who take risks and look for the limits of the car, themselves and the rules.

      If we listen to people who only want to take away this action, we might consider forbidding overtaking at all, because every single overtaking action has some level risk involved. That way we can remove DRS again so your only chance of gaining a position is at the pit stop. No risks whatsoever (apart from Alonso and Hulkenberg last weekend of course).

      1. Duncan Idaho (@)
        2nd September 2016, 2:41

        Max will bring dutch fans whether he eradicates a dangerous practice or not. They’re not there to watch Deathrace 2000 .
        This reflex blocking is likely to have someone severely injured or killed in the near term and, to my mind, far from increasing the tension, actively dissuades further passing manoeuvres even being attempted (“am I really dying to get this position?”).

        1. Perfectly put

        2. To me it’s pretty obvious: If the behavior is within the rules but not desirable for whatever reason, the driver in case is not to blame and we simply have to look at the rules.

          Keith, with his article the other day, was on the right track in that respect imho.

          Now, the rule is the driver in front can make 1 move off the racing line and then 1 move back onto the racing line and he may not do them under braking. Note that there is nothing in there about whén the defending driver is allowed to make his move other then that he may not do it under braking.

          Most drivers just take the inside line early while defending, making the attacker go the long way around the outside. This sometimes this is done so early that, under DRS especially, the attacker doens’t have to do anything and just drives straight past the defender without even moving his steering wheel, while the defender just slots in behind or worse: still has to cope with the shallow line he is taking into the corner.

          Verstappen doens’t want to roll over like that and simply waits for the attacker to make a move first and then reacts. This forces the attacker to either abort the move or throw a dummy (fake one way and then go around the other side, like RIC did on VET at Monza in 2014).

          Now, in Canada against Rosberg, and in my view in Belgium against Kimi as well, Verstappen did it béfore the braking zone and thus it’s up to the attacker to not crash into him. In Germany, however, Verstappen did it under braking on Rosberg and to me he should have been penalized for it but wasn’t. ROS getting penalized for forcing Verstappen wide on exit was just utter BS imho. The car width rule only applies before the braking zone or when clearly behind as defender going into the corner (as was the case with ROS/HAM in Austria where HAM was clearly in front at that point), not when dictating the racing line out of the corner as the leading car.

          So, we either change the rules or deal with it. Since a major accident will happen in the latter case at some point, I personally say we should change the rules. But as it stands the rules aren’t changing and the other drivers would do best to take a page out of Verstappens book of defending and copy it.

          (PS: I’m Dutch and naturally I support VES in general and went to Spa last week largely because of him, but I don’t think that clouds my judgement especially since I have been a fan of the sport for over 20 years since I was a boy. Quite frankly I think that the way in which some people comment on this issue both in favor of or against Verstappen is over the line and way too personal. This is a sophisticated F1 blog with mostly dedicated and knowledgeble F1 fans. Let’s keep it that way and go easy with the fanboy/hater dynamic.)

        3. Don’t you think the man in the car behind has a responsibility too?

          1. Yes, his responsibility as an attacker or defender is to get past or defend his position.

            If a driver doent do all he can in either situation within the rules, then he’s not doing his job properly imho.

            Basically it’s like track limits in my view: it’s up to the driver to maximize his driving and up to the stewards to police that. If the rules they have to police with aren’t covering all things sufficiently, we need to look at the rules.

    3. @f1lauri If that’s killing F1 what was this, then? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMbZ9noibxQ

    1. The way he approached turn 1 last weekend in Spa is exactly how he approached it in F3. So everyone who has been criticizing VES for his approach to turn 1, just watch the video! The kid knew what he was doing…

      1. The one taking the inside line is Ocon. Max ran wide. At least that is what I infer from the commentary.

        Also there are no three cars in that video. And both arrive at the same time into the corner. in the F3 race while Kimi and Vettel are already there while Max does a late brake and goes into the corner without a plan on how to come out unhurt.

    2. In the first video they make actually make contact. Luckily the speed difference is not that great in F3, but in F1 where the speed difference is around 20-30kp/h, this contact could have been a big accident. Which is why it’s so dangerous to block in that manner.

  2. That’s why I would have made him do one year in GP2. Sure, he’s capable of winning a Grand Prix when the circumstances are ideal, but using his style in GP2 he would have almost certainly met someone that would have not backed off, resulted in a crash that would have tought him, and everyone would have been better off – not just his rivals, but also him and his fans, so he would have been more careful in critical situations. I hope that there won’t be an accident caused by his behaviour but I just can’t shake off the thought that he should have got the experience of it in a category where there are lower speeds involved.

    1. Let me rephrase your story to what you’re actually saying: “Using his style in GP2 he would have almost certainly met someone that would have not backed off because you’re not allowed to take risks at defending (only in overtaking), resulted in a crash that would have thought him the next time he needs to be even more aggressive, and everyone would have been off worse – not just his rivals, but also him and his fans, so he would have been more aggressive in critical situations. I hope that there won’t be an accident caused by his behaviour because F1 should only allow clean passes when the other driver allows you through […]”

      What does it bring you as a driver by being careful, listening to everything the team tells you to and never take any risks? A permanent drive as a second driver. Just look at what the best drivers have in common, whether it is Senna, Villeneuve, Schumacher, Montoya, Hamilton or maybe Verstappen (too early to judge): they all have aggressive driving styles, are not known as drivers who are easy-going and dare to say “no” to the team every now and then. On the other side are obedient drivers who are likeable, don’t take unnecessary risks and have a more fluent driving style, think Barrichello, Irvine, Coulthard and Webber. Great drivers, but not the best of the best. Part character, part driving style, part lack of balls probably.

      1. Well careful may have been the wrong wording, I wanted to mean the opposite of careless (forward-thinking maybe?), because I’ve got a feel there’s a risk of him being that. He should just take a nudge back from his very aggressive style to simply being aggressive if that makes a sense – like Hamilton, when he was younger he was more aggressive than today, nowadays he is more careful how he applies his aggressiveness. There are battles that no matter what you do you can’t win because of a deficiency in your car, and I don’t think Verstappen wants to accept that at this stage. With some more experience amongst maybe worse but certainly more enthusiastic drivers than you can find in the top end of F1 that he would have found in GP2, I think he would have got more adjusted to get closer to perfection. There’s no doubt his car control is one of, if not the best already in the world, and if he’d pair up his aggressive driving with some patience, he could be the top driver all round by, let’s say, next year – before he’s 20. This way, he may take a bit more time. Maybe he’ll be 22 before he dominates the world. :D

        (I hope what I say is comprehensible, if not I’ll try again tomorrow morning)

        1. @hunocsi Yeah, I’d say I can find myself in your new words. ;-) All I wanted to point out is that I dislike new F1 drivers who are (maybe too) careful from the get go. But basically all drivers are indeed less patient at a younger age, that’s at least one downside of him being 18.

        2. Give Max a Mercedes and there is no need to defend….or in your words ‘his very aggressive style”

      2. There’s risk and there’s too much risk.

        Kemmel was too much risk.

        1. “Kemmel was too much risk.”

          Thanks for your expert opinion. Not everyone agrees with you though. Current drivers like Alonso & Perez didn’t think it was too risky. Can you accept that your opinion is just an opinion and not the irrefutable truth?

      3. What does it bring you as a driver by being careful, listening to everything the team tells you to and never take any risks?

        @addvariety World championships. The important thing is not being entirely submissive, but you also can’t be overly aggressive to the point of “my way or we crash together”. of all your example only Senna and Schumacher who constantly winning and Schumacher himself has a lot of other factor backing him. Hamilton is much less aggressive than his early years and now he winning 2 WDC much easier than his aggressive year and on track on his 4th. The only reason Max can do what he does now is because he never in the pressure of winning championship, when you can easily destroy your race while your main rival maximizing his profit from your own demise.

        1. I have to agree with you partly, but as I said earlier: the other end of the spectrum is never taking any risks. That’s not what brings you world championships. And the reason Hamilton is much less aggressive is simply because his car is so dominant. In his earlier years, he had to fight with Ferrari most of the time.

      4. Rick, and what about those champions who thought that it was not necessary to drive so aggressively on track, such as Clark or Fittipaldi?

    2. Ignoring whether his race was dangerous or not, it was certainly stupid.

      Diving down the inside at the start was always going to result in contact. It doesn’t matter if you blame Vettel or Kimi, it would have been a miracle if that move by Verstappen didn’t result in contact.

      It was the kind of start you pull on a Codemasters game with damage turned off… The top drivers wouldn’t have made that move because they would have thought better of it and that is where Max had to learn. Poor driving IMO.

  3. I like Ocon so far, seems like a really rational, down to earth guy.

    1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
      1st September 2016, 23:31

      Thank god then that not all drivers are like Ocon .. would be boring as hell.

      1. Yes, we need more sociopathic teenage go kart racers willing to crash themselves and others at 200 mph in F1 to make it more “exciting”.
        And I thought the Dutch were enlightened…

        1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
          2nd September 2016, 11:48

          what the hell .. he is not sociopathic .. wat a stupid remark Gary. I think someone who makes that kind of shocking remark is sociopathic himself. Also Hulkenberg, Perez, Alonso and Hamilton said he did nothing wrong! What do you want in F1? Just go to the right of the track and wave while the guy behind passes you? Max did not make his move in the breaking zone so everything he did was fine. Kimi was way to close to Max to make that move. Did you see the battles between Mansell and Senna .. they did exactly te same thing as what Max is doing. F1 is for pussies nowadays.

        2. Maybe it’s time to switch your attention to cricket, snooker or indoor bowls, Gary. Watching Formula 1 is obviously not good for your blood pressure.

  4. Nico Rosberg showed how not to ‘last second’ defend at Barcelona this year…

    Like it or not Max has timed his similar moves well enough to stay within the rules, the mark of someone who knows how to win. Not a fan of him or indeed his dad, but you have to give credit where it’s due

    1. Rosberg also stayed within the rules at barcelona.

      Maybe Hamilton needs a lesson from Kimmy on how to apply the brake pedal.

      1. At Barcelona Rosberg was too late with his block and took both cars out. Once a car is alongside there is no ‘backing out’, it happens too quickly. Lewis tried to avoid the collision by steering onto the grass, the impact only occurred after he had lost control on the slippery surface. Rosberg was very lucky not get penalised for forcing a car that was alongside off the track on the straight. Subsequent GPs where he has deliberately forced both Lewis and Max off the track have shown his true character, thankfully the stewards are now alert to this and handing out penalties.

        Max is a whole lot better at this very risky last second blocking manoeuvre.

        1. @frasier Wrong. Nico and all drivers are allowed their one move while fully ahead. Nico was doing that. Lewis tried late for a spot that was always closing and put his front wing beside Nico’s rear tire while Nico was still doing his one allowed move. LH’s bad guess caused him to lose control of his car on the grass and take Nico out.

          1. @robbie

            ‘Always closing’ isn’t ‘closed’, judged by the fact that Lewis was alongside Nico whilst on the race track. Nico has shown before and since that he is fully prepared to run rivals off the track, as indeed he did in Barcelona. It wasn’t Lewis being late with the manoeuvre, it was Nico being too late closing the door.

        2. Lewis Vs Nico in Barcelone was different.
          Nico started moving to the right just after the corner; that’s where you cover there; he did not wait for Lewis to pick his side and the moved there to block.
          It was Lewis that chose to still go right, both i think got surprised by the speed differential they did not expect there and missed a fraction to react.

        3. Not according to the stewards. They addressed all the points you bring up and concluded that Lewis achieved a minescule overlap for just a fraction of a second before leaving the track. In other words, he had to throw himself off the road to get his wing anywhere near Nico’s tire. He simply was never going to be able to get both an overlap and stay on the track. He needed to chose one or the other, and he chose the option that would end his own race.

  5. I don’t even want to read the article; why is Ocon even talking about a fellow driver yet?!
    Is he another Palmer?! Not a good example to follow.

  6. I’d say you cannot criticize him for that till his moves are within the rules…

  7. There seems to be a lot of confusion between driving within the rules and driving with respect.

    Max is making no friends with this late moving approach, which maybe within the rules… but whether pretty disrespectful driving should be applauded is a different debate.

    I think if he actually hurt a fellow driver with this moving around approach maybe his attitude would be different. Not sure.

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