Verstappen says Leclerc should have backed down in Austria clash

2019 F1 season

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Max Verstappen says Charles Leclerc should have backed down in the collision between the pair at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was confirmed as the winner of the race following a lengthy stewards’ investigation. However he believed the incident was “very straightforward”, and said Leclerc should have conceded the corner.

“At the end of the day if there was not any run-off you [would] automatically back off because you know that otherwise you’re going off the track.

“The only thing is because of the run-off you just stay there and then you hope that if you get forced wide that the guy on the inside gets a penalty. That’s why you do it. I don’t think it’s correct. If it would happen in turn four you would not stay around the outside.”

Verstappen said the stewards decision made it “quite clear from my side” and sees no reason for further discussion of the incident between the drivers.

“I think the more you talk about it the worse it is,” he said. “They should just let us race.”

The Red Bull driver said he didn’t feel the celebrate the win any more after the long wait for his victory to be confirmed.

“I don’t see the reason to celebrate all the time. Of course it’s a win and at the time of course I was very happy and stuff. But I don’t need to go out, party, drink and fall on the floor.”

“For me it already felt like a win so even if they would take it away it’s all fine,” he added.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 26 comments on “Verstappen says Leclerc should have backed down in Austria clash”

    1. Verstappen is an idiot– he had the pace and 2 or 3 laps to easily pass for the lead, and instead of doing it cleanly, he crashed into Leclerc and was very lucky to not get a penalty. If he had more maturity, he’d see that he’ll get better results if he’s patient in a situation like that. If I were Leclerc, I would have crashed out of the race rather than give up his line for someone diving inside and taking his time to start turning.

      Red Bull has had annoying pace the last few years because they are capable of winning races but not get anything in the championship other than 3rd, which incentivizes their drivers to be extra aggressive because they’d rather have 2 wins and 18 crashes than 20 ~fourth-places. Basically, they can afford to be aggressive because it gives them more optionality for wins, and they have basically no downside. Mercedes and Ferrari have to back off because they need points every single race and can’t get DNFs in exchange for more victories.

      1. Why does that make you think (or say) Max is an idiot @chaddy.

        Off course he knows what he is doing. Off course he knows that he counted on Leclerc not having anywhere to go. The thing that makes him NOT an idiot (and makes Charles not one either) is that they did not crash and stood on the podium.

        The biggest mistake might have been made earlier in the race when Ferrari told Leclerc to just stay in position vs the slow Mercedes cars. Had they allowed him to go a bit more faster, build a larger margin, Verstappen might never have gotten in reach in the first place.

        But that still doesn’t make anyone “idiots”. Unlike you if you had “rather crashed into max”.

      2. @chaddy – I’m not here to defend VER, or his move on LEC in Austria.

        However, your second paragraph sort of speaks against your first. It is exactly those reasons that you spell out in your second paragraph that RBR drivers can do that. If they know Merc and Ferrari drivers need the points more than they do, and will back off, then there is no reason to play it safe. That is a good strategic move if that is what they are doing.

        At this point, though, I think it may no longer work on Merc drivers. They have the titles sown up, in my opinion, and can risk a DNF at this point. Ferrari can’t; if they think the titles are still up for grabs, they need every point.

        All that said, no matter how I feel about the entirety of the move, LEC should not have left the door open.

    2. I still don’t get why LEC let VES have the inside line. He got away with it one time but he was never going to keep VER behind by opening the door.

      1. The camber of the corner means more wheel spin by taking a tight line, with Leclerc on older tyres he would have got a poor exit, on the first attempt he took advantage and got a decent exit and managed to repass Verstappen. The next lap he assumed the same trick would work, but did not anticipate Verstappen would force him off the track.

        1. TBH, Verstappen did not ‘force’ Leclerc off track. Leclerc turned in more sharply and hit Verstappen who was taking a wider line towards the exit.

          Verstappen denied Leclerc space as a consequence of taking a wider line, which is fair game if you are edging ahead from the apex and onwards to the exit.
          The driver outside that is slightly behind simply has to accomodate the driver ahead during an overtaking manoeuvre.

          If Leclerc was ahead, Verstappen would have needed to leave a car’s width space, but since he himself was (ever so slightly) ahead, he did not.

          15 years ago this was never controversial.

    3. Fair comment by Max and if I’m not mistaken, same corner, one lap earlier, CL indeed did a much better job of defending, and that had Max on the outside, and Max backed down.

      1. @robbie You remember incorrectly. One lap before, Verstappen actually left Leclerc room to stay on track. Leclerc was on the outside in both cases.

        So the next time around Verstappen shoved Leclerc off to make sure Leclerc couldn’t come back like he did that lap before.

        The stewards actually cited that as a reason for allowing Verstappen to clearly block Leclerc like that.

        1. @f1osaurus Yeah perhaps what I’m recalling is that Max backed off and then went wide himself to try to get inside CL upon exit. Perhaps you can provide the verbiage from the stewards that cites Max’s previous lap behaviour as a reason for the non-penalty. Pardon me if I don’t I take your word for it when you use rhetoric like ‘shoved off’ and ‘clearly block’. If one was to just take your verbiage to heart one would think a penalty would be a no-brainer. The only quotes I can recall from the stewards involved the actual lap 69 incident and nothing else.

          1. @robbie I didn’t say “clearly block” as part of their description, but that is what it boils down to though. Verstappen did not turn in where he normally would have and notably the where he did turn in the lap before. In doing so ran Leclerc of track. That’s clear as day blocking.

            They probably called it “late apex” or something, but that’s just PC speak for the exact same thing. I remember it was reported here on the blog as an explanation piece afterwards. You should be able to find it in one of the roundups or as a separate article.

            Although they also claimed that Verstappen never opened up his steering and that was clearly not true from footage, because he does open up steering while Leclerc is still side by side and on track.

            This was more of a “lets make something up to try and make our decision sound reasonable” and indeed I get that you feel it doesn’t make much sense. They should just have gone with “we want to let them race” instead.

      2. georgeboole (@)
        11th July 2019, 20:48

        @robbie I would put it that way:
        When Verstappen first tried to pass he left enough room for Leclerc to stay on the track and keep his position. Then he was more aggressive.
        Maybe more drivers should be more aggressive. We wouldn’t be talking about it at the moment.

        1. The problem is some drivers are allowed to block people off the track one some aren’t. But clearly this incident sets a precedent that you can just go inside and run anyone off. Love if this gets challenged and used in coming races. No doubt someone else will get a penalty for an identical incident based on some extremely minor difference.

          1. @Initially – Agree. This has been done for ages by all sorts of drivers. It is basically the rule. But this is the first time I recall the stewards giving it a formal OK. I’m curious how much more aggressive people will be making this move from here on.

    4. That is non sense. Nowadays racing is just stupid. Even in simulators you see that kind of philosophy, if you take the inside line others should let you pass. What an exciting thing… That takes all the fun of racing… And then if you try to fight for position they don’t give you space, they run into you, and at the end blame you, because you should backdown.
      And with luck you get a penalty because you are just trying to find some room to pass. Ridiculous. This is how they are interpreting rules today…
      Last year he did run into ocon, and ocon got a penalty, he was being laped, but max turned into him. With leclerc he did the same, just dont give space, and put the car as if the other car is not there. For me that kind of racing is boring AF, how can you fight for positions this way ? if they restrict fights how can racing be exiting ?

      1. @luis – I agree with you and like how you’ve described it. It almost turns into a form of DRS where once you have it the other driver has basically no defense.

        I think LEC left the door open way too much and paid the price when VER moved inside. However, I think VER ran LEC wide when they were directly side by side and left him no room. I get that is what happens a lot, but A) usually the inside driver is ahead and not fully alongside the outside driver, and B) I think it is an unfair and unsporting move no matter what.

        In this instance I do not think that VER dive-bombed LEC. However, I think because of how it went down (running LEC off track while fully alongside) and because the stewards okayed it, it will lead to more dive bombs. Because if all you need to do is get inside and then you can push the other driver off, it could become very risky in the corners.

    5. Let’s see if Max complains when someone makes the exact same pass on him.

      1. In China Vettel shoved Max onto the grass. Max said it was just hard racing and made no fuss about it

      2. He will never let a gap open on the inside like Leclerc did in Austria… that’s the difference!

        1. He already did it in China this year like @PMR commented above.

          1. That was a first lap incident where Max tried to overtake him but Vettel defended aggressively.

            Max just said he would do the same.

            It wasn’t even investigated because no one was crying about it

    6. This is what i don’t like about him. Does he ever back down? He ruined the race of Sainz in Bahrain by not backing off. Almost ran into the back of Lewis at Monaco. He ruined his and races of many others in early part of last season by not backing off. He expected Ocon to back off and cut him sharply after being overtaken on the straight in Brazil last year and threw away a win. When he doesn’t back off most of the time why does he expects other drivers to let him through?
      Max is a fantastic new generation driver but i doubt he will ever be a clean driver.

      1. Max was never going into the back of Lewis in Monaco as he was left of Lewis ..
        Back off means let yourself pass which isn’t racing ofcourse, in racing you backoff when a overtake will damage yourself or gives yourself a bad exit.

    7. Verstappen won the race 100% on merit he drove very well and no one had an answer to him. But expecting Leclerc the race leader to just move over is a little too arrogant I think.

    8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th July 2019, 12:56

      And if Max had given the space, he would have won the race. What a tool! He should be focusing on why he lost the race last week.

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