Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Silverstone, 2019

Apology means more than stewards’ decision – Vettel

2019 British Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel shrugged off his penalty for crashing into Max Verstappen during the British Grand Prix, saying it mattered more that he apologised for the collision.

The Ferrari driver was given a 10-second time penalty for hitting Verstappen and had two penalty points added to his licence, putting him on a total of six. Although Daniel Ricciardo went unpunished for a similar collision with Verstappen in Baku last year, Vettel said he wasn’t concerned by the penalty.

“Of course initially I thought there was a gap and the gap closed but after some laps I realised it was my mistake so I went up to Max and told him what I thought,” Vettel said in response to a question from RaceFans. “That for me counts more than any stewards’ decision to be honest.”

Vettel thought he saw an opportunity to re-pass Verstappen, who had just overtaken him. “Obviously he was a bit faster, closing quite quickly and passed very easily before turn 15,”he explained.

“But then he ran a bit wide so I thought I can sneak back. I thought there was a gap which then turned out not to be there. It’s a misjudgement from my side.”

Verstappen said Vettel came straight to him after the race to apologise. “When he jumped out of his car he immediately came to me,” said the Red Bull driver. “He apologised, said he misjudged the braking, [his] fault.”

“It’s disappointing but you can’t change it now,” he added.

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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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38 comments on “Apology means more than stewards’ decision – Vettel”

  1. Gentlemanly from both drivers.
    End of this story…hopefully.

  2. It’s always tempting to pinpoint the culprit after every clash, forums are full with discussions about it. But I try to change my approach. It’s very refreshing just to watch the race and enjoy a good battle. There is close racing and they are fighting for position, just the thing we want to see so badly. Sometimes it goes right, sometimes it goes wrong. You owe up to your mistake, say sorry and you try to do better next time, end of discussion. The last two races were very enjoyable and I would like to see more of it.

      1. Well said. And I have always liked seeing drivers do as SV did with his immediate apology before Max even got out of the car.

    1. Very good point and a good advice for all of us how to enjoy the races the most @matthijs. Where we get great track action, sometimes things go wrong. In the end, Vettel punished himself most of all, since Verstappen was able to keep it going.

      The racing between the mercedes’, with Max and Charles and with Max and Vettel had been great, until Vettel really misjudged that move. Good that he realised it was his mistake and apologized to Verstappen.

  3. Vettel really needs a win at his home GP next week to put it all behind. It was this race last year that kind of triggered all his mistakes and spins and sometimes just bad luck. Maybe if he wins it this year, he can turn around his season. Not really his fan, but I think F1 still needs him out there to put out a great show.

    What is more annoying about their crash in Silverstone, is that it robbed us of a great fight between Bottas and Max at the end of the race. After his late second pitstop, Bottas came out a couple of seconds ahead of Leclerc. This means that if Max wasn’t taken out he would have probably been ahead of Bottas, but with a pretty big difference in tires. It would have been a great fight to the flag for 2nd place.

    1. Exactly! And not only were we robbed of a potential great fight for 2nd but also we were robbed of all the scenes of anxious anticipation in the Merc box towards Bottas’ 2nd stop. It would have made the GP even greater than it already was.

  4. Classy act out of the car, as Seb tends to be lately, now he needs to be a class act behind the wheel.

  5. At China 2018 it was the other way round, Verstappen misjudged his braking point which led to spinning Vettel round, right after the race Verstappen was humble, showed his respect and apologised to Vettel.
    What goes around…. an occasional crash is part of racing.

    People critisising Verstappen after Brasil should realise it was actually Ocon provocing Verstappen after the race, laughing in his face… a little pushing isn’t ok, though Ocon’s behaviour was far from being a good sportsman.

    Vettel…. I don;t write him off like the media does.. Leclerc is a strong team mate, but also had his share of mistakes so far this season. Ferrari will get more and more competition from RBR, it could be a good 2nd half of the season.

    1. Agree and said it several times last year, Ocon had every opportunity to de-escalate the situation post-race, and rather did the opposite even as the clearly guilty party. SV showed how it should be done post-race.

      1. VER was 100% at fault for the collision into Ocon in Brazil, and threw away an easy win. I would have laughed in his face too.

        1. opinion or fact?

        2. @megatron The Stewards didn’t agree with your view, though.

          1. The stewards are more often than not wrong.

        3. @megatron Cite the times before or since that incident that we see a backmarker trying to unlap himself by divebombing into the race leader. Max had all the reason in the world by simple history not to mention the rules not to mention respectful etiquette, to expect nobody there when he took the line that was his right to select as the race leader dealing with a backmarker. 100% Ocon’s fault as per his penalty.

          1. GtisBetter (@)
            16th July 2019, 14:05

            It was Verstappen who 100% threw away his win though. He could have easily avoided it. It was his race to lose and boy did he lost it, no matter subjective things like etiquette and this mysterious right as a race leader, even though he was slower and there is no rule that you can’t unlap. Max knew he was there and just took the line like he wasn’t. Wat a rookie mistake. I think he did learn a lesson that day.

          2. How about you cite how often it is that a back marker is faster than the race leader. This was quite a rare instance whereby a back marker was quicker than the leader and as such they had a right to unlap themselves. Other drivers in the past have unlapped themselves in F1 without an issue, the simple fact here is Max didn’t want to let Ocon by and as such must take some blame in the incident. Had he simply moved aside as other drivers such as Hamilton suggested was probably the best move, then it would never have happened.

            I’m not saying it was Verstappen’s fault but he was certainly in part responsible for the accident, a penalty for Ocon doesn’t mean Verstappen had no responsibility in the incident. By refusing to criticise Verstappen’s attitude you’re only holding him back from improving. He’ll never be a world champion until he learns when to pick a fight.

          3. @robbie @slowmo @megatron There is no such thing as 100% fault in a collision. By claiming so you will never get to an agreement or able to convince the other party. Expecially in the Verstappen – Ocon clash, both parties had a share in the collision.

          4. Ves – Ocon was no racing incident, it was stupid racing from a guy who is way behind. Ok it still is racing and you have the right to go for a position, but this was a stupid move from Ocon. You cannot pass Ves on a lesser car, that is impossible and Ocon knew this, still he had to show how brave he is. That’s why he is walking and not driving at the moment.

          5. @matthijs I would agree in most cases although the Vettel incident in the last race was an example whereby it was a 100% fault as the driver behind anticipating a gap that isn’t there then not being able to stop is not the same as going for a closing gap in which case you’d give a large portion of the blame to the person behind and a little to the defender for closing the door if they could have left room.

            @pietkoster Actually I think you’ll find at that point in time Ocon was driving the faster car and not a “lesser” car. I agree you can’t pass Verstappen in a “lesser” car though as he’ll just crash into you as Sainz and Leclerc found out already this year.

          6. @robbie The regulations don’t differentiate between same-lap and different-lap regulations in terms of how much space has to be left for each other, except where the driver to be lapped is ahead and there is both a reasonable opportunity and a continuing speed deficiency on the part of the car to be lapped to permit a lapping move. None of these applied at the point of collision.

            We had this discussion at the time and the regulations didn’t make the distinction you claim then, either. It does require that drivers not drive in a way that could reasonably be assumed to cause a collision, which I would argue Verstappen failed to do – hence why the stewards’ decision contradicts what is stated in the regulations. Either you agree with the stewards or you agree with the regulations – with the Ocon-Verstappen Brazil 2018 crash, it’s theoretically impossible to agree with both.

            As such, the correct comparison would be “Cite any occasion that we see a driver attempt to pass another by divebombing”. For that… …I saw at least three just in Sunday’s race (the Haases, Verstappen against Leclerc towards the end of their infamous battle, Perez v Hulkenberg). None were penalised and only one was investigated, despite Verstappen managing the only clean divebomb of the race (Perez’s was technically-“assisted” but it’s not clear the stewards knew that when they made their decision).

            Vettel’s attempt on Verstappen could arguably be called a penalised divebomb, but I’m not sure he developed it enough to be sure it was even that, rather than, say, “temporarily forgot how to place his own car” (it certainly wasn’t a move for which Vettel should or will get any good credit, and I am glad he was so quick to apologise). For better or worse, divebombs are an established part of F1 racing and have been for a few years.

          7. @alianora-la-canta


            This is really all I’m saying. On the rare occasion that a driver trying to unlap himself is faster than, in this case, the race leader, he is absolutely allowed to unlap himself, but Ocon was penalized because he fought for the position and didn’t pass, or attempt to pass, cleanly. One simply does not fight the race leader to unlap oneself. The onus was on Ocon to not fight Max, which is why Max would not have any reason to expect Ocon to fight him as he did, and why Max simply took a line that should have left him unbothered. The onus was wholly on Ocon to not fight Max, and therefore he was penalized.

            Let’s forget the rules or the etiquette for a second and just imagine the politics that would go on, and the different strategies, if it was perfectly fine that a backmarker could pit for fresh tires, and come out and fight the race leader under the guise of ‘unlapping himself’ but in reality simply to fight with the race leader in an effort to help his teammate, or another teams driver in the WDC fight. Common sense says the drivers who are about to be a lap down are blue flagged and are not to fight the leading drivers. Similarly why would they allow a lapped car trying to unlap himself to fight with the driver who is in a different fight altogether, that being for the lead? Just because a blue flag isn’t brought out for a car trying to unlap itself doesn’t mean he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants with the race leader, obviously, or Ocon would not have gotten a penalty, and throughout the years we would have all kinds of examples of controversial behaviour wrt race leaders being messed with.

            Further to that, it is awfully hard to imagine that Ocon would have done this to LH.

          8. @robbie Ocon did attempt to pass cleanly and only failed because Verstappen chopped him in a way the regulations as written at the time forebade. As discussed throughly at the time. One does, and every so often is expected to, unlap themselves, otherwise the regulations would ban them. It has been known since at least Japan 1993 that they do not, so common sense says that Ocon was allowed to fight the leading driver. Especially in a scenario when the only blue flag that was waved was done when Verstappen was ahead of Ocon (thus ineffectual). It’s allowed because this is motor racing, not a procession, and every so often a lapped driver ends up in a fight that requires an unlap to be done. Given how the regulations are actually written, and given how Verstappen and Ocon acted, the only possible conclusion is that Verstappen, not Ocon, was at fault for the collision and thus Verstappen should have received any penalty involved. The stewards claiming otherwise simply meant the stewards incorrectly interpreted the regulations.

            Perhaps you would like to consider the political effects of requiring drivers to stay behind others simply because they are on different laps, regardless of their actual speed? They end up being exactly the same as the hypothetical scenario you paint.

            It is hard to imagine that Hamilton would have put himself in a situation where the scenario played out in the first place. As he told Verstappen, sometimes the approach has to be varied.

          9. @alianora-la-canta No I have to continue to disagree with your premise. Let’s start off with the fact that Ocon was the penalized one, and that Whiting stated Ocon ‘fighting’ to unlap himself was wholly unacceptable.

            I will never dispute with you or anyone that a driver is allowed to unlap himself. That is a fact. Where we differ is how the driver trying to unlap himself does so. Simply put, he is not to ‘fight’ the race leader for his lap back. Pass him in a mundane way along a straight? For sure. Dive bomb inside the leader who is already ahead in a corner? No way. That, as we saw, gets you a penalty.

            I’m going to assume the stewards and Whiting know/knew the regulations better than you do and therefore did not interpret them wrong.

            I have never claimed Ocon should have stayed behind, but it was his responsibility to not unsettle Max in passing him, and Max knew that, which is why he assumed Ocon would not have the nerve to cut into him as he took his rightful line at the apex where Ocon hit him.

            Put another way, we simply do not watch race after race, season after season, watching drivers trying to unlap themselves aggressively as Ocon did. If this was allowed we would see some tactical strategies in play for backmarker cars to come in for fresh tires so they could come out behind leader’s and then proceed to fight them in order to favour their, for example, teammate, or similarly powered car on another team. We do not see this because it is simply not allowed in the rules to aggressively fight a leader as a backmarker trying to unlap himself, nor is it ethical, nor does it make sense. The leader has earned the right to not be challenged by a backmarker. Passed? Sure. Cleanly. Not with a dive bomb that catches the leader by surprise because backmarkers historically do not challenge leaders in a fight. If Ocon had so much more pace the onus was on him to use it in a place that would not disrupt the leader.

            Perhaps ask yourself why this type of incident is so rare. If you were right and the stewards got the rules wrong, why do we not see in every race somebody challenging the leader aggressively while trying to unlap himself, or under the guise of unlapping himself. Why are there even blue flags? If the atmosphere was such that race leaders are on their own and always in for a fight, even against unlapping cars, why even have blue flags? Why do you think the leader (and all top runners) gets a free pass coming through to lap cars, yet a car already a lap down and just through the timing of a pit stop for tires should have free rein to fight the leader as aggressively as he wants? Does that really make sense to you? Not to me. Whether the car is being lapped, or has already been lapped and is trying to unlap himself, the leader and the top runners have earned their positions and their fight is with the other top runners for podiums and other high points paying positions. Their fight is not with backmarkers which is why the way it works, as per Ocon’s penalty, is that the onus was on Ocon to pass Max cleanly where it would not affect Max’s race with the top runners. If Ocon was so confident of having so much more pace he needed to use that on a straight and/or in a drs zone, gotten by Max easily and cleanly, and raced off into the sunset leaving Max to run his race.

            I’ll ask again…do you really think Ocon would have done what he did to Max, to LH? Let alone been smug and provocative about it after the race? If you think all Max had to do was leave more room for Ocon, as suggested by LH, do you honestly think Ocon would have actually put LH in the same position of having to leave room for Ocon? This incident was not only very rare, but it seemed personal and possibly political at the same time. After all, as a backmarker what did Ocon really have to lose by fighting the leader and helping LH in doing so? I think what I suggest is certainly possibly what was going though Ocon’s mind at the time, and certainly if the rules were as you suggest and interpreted wrongly by the stewards, then unquestionably you must believe what Ocon did was shady and politically motivated to try to help his team, Mercedes.

          10. @robbie Your starting premise is that Charlie Whiting made a false statement concerning the regulations (I have explained at length why it is false) and that Ocon was penalised on that basis. Since an error is the cause of the penalty according to the starting premise provided, I can safely skip everything you believe flows from that.

          11. @alianora-la-canta You have erroneously interpreted the stewards ruling and Whitings words on the matter. It’s very straightforward and is why acts akin to what Ocon did rarely have occurred. And why he was correctly penalized.

        4. O really megatron, VER was 100% at fault? You mean like the americans could have 100% prevented the 911 attacks by simply not not building WTC 1, 2 and 7?

        5. You cannot be serious. Ocon got blue flags because VS put him on one lap. It’s ridiculous to do what Ocon did. He ruined the race of the race leader.

          1. That is what I am trying to say. Unlapping is ok and a valid move. But in this case it was stupid. A lap or two later he would have been lapped again by Ves. He knew this and still wanted to show he is a match for Ves. It was macho and useless. Ves knew this and therefore didn’t expected this move by Ocon. In the mean time I actually start liking Vettel. He would be the perfect mate for Ves I think.

  6. In racing you see this incidents all the time, sometimes it goes just ok and sometimes it doesn’t. Remember Jos V. crashing into montoya. :-) A part of the game. At least they race for any position on the track. Of course if you travel hundreds of miles and pay lots of money, in the race your favorite driver ends in the dirt by a mistake of an other driver, emotions are there.

    1. Yeah, i’m a big Jos The Boss fan but that shunt was quite a bit more stupid than Vettel’s last sunday.

  7. The outcome of this incident is surprisingly wholesome. Just a shame that the DWC is dead-er than ever.

  8. :D Nice Vettel and Max behaving in gentlemanly fashion. Things have changed in F1.

  9. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    16th July 2019, 12:31

    You can say a lot of things about Seb as a driver, but he is a class act in those times.

  10. pastaman (@)
    16th July 2019, 13:19

    Why bring up the collision between VER and RIC? They are totally different incidents.

  11. This is what men do. Max did I’m in China last year and Hungary 2017, Seb does it now.

    On the other hand you have guys like Ocon who laugh in your face after they ruined your race and start crying when you give them a little push.

    1. @anunaki Verstappen ruined his own race with a move that breached the regulations as written. While Ocon was not a gentleman, he was considerably more so than Verstappen was that day.

      Thankfully, Max has grown up since.

  12. I was glad to see him man up and own his actions / mistakes instead of how he handled Canada, Baku, etc

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