Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Verstappen says his comments on Grosjean’s crash were “misunderstood”

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says comments he made following the Bahrain Grand Prix in response to Romain Grosjean’s crash have been “misunderstood”.

Grosjean suffered burns to his hands in the crash and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix as a result. Sunday’s race was suspended for almost an hour and a half while the crash scene was cleared.

Several replays of the crash were shown during the time, which some drivers said was insensitive. However during Sunday’s press conference Verstappen remarked that he would ‘kick out’ a driver who refused to race following a serious crash.

“I think people misunderstood what I meant,” said Verstappen ahead of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. What I was trying to say is that as drivers we know the risks when we get in the car and if anyone has doubts they should consider stopping racing.”

Verstappen said the situation would have been different had Grosjean’s injuries been more serious.

“There is nothing wrong with that if you feel uncomfortable to race but we are part of a team and they rely on us to do our job which is drive the car. Had Romain not walked away obviously things would have been very different on Sunday.

“I think back in the sixties and seventies it was way more dangerous and the drivers of that era were still going out on track because they knew it was their job and that’s what they loved to do, even though they knew the risk was very high of losing their friends around them. The safety in place now is incredible and I respect everyone’s own decisions but that is how I feel.

“Nobody ever wants to see an accident like that but all that really matters is that Romain is okay.”

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Verstappen and Hamilton’s full press conference response

Romain Grosjean crash, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020
Grosjean: I tried three times to escape from burning cockpit
Question: “To Lewis and Max if they could each answer. Do you think drivers should… given what happened and thankfully, Romain is relatively fine, but given what happened and the shock of seeing that, do you think drivers should be given the option, whether they want to race, continue that race?”

Hamilton: “I don’t think so. I mean, we’re not the safety regulators. So we’re here to do a job and we rely on the FIA who are aware of safety and we trust them implicitly. So, no, I do not think so.”

Verstappen: “I don’t get why you wouldn’t race. If I would be the team boss I would kick him out of the seat.”

Hamilton: “Hmm?”

Verstappen: “If the guy wouldn’t race, if I would be the team boss I would tell him ‘then you never sit in the seat again’.”

Hamilton: “I hope you’re never my team boss…”

Verstappen: “I hope I will never be a team boss anyway!”

Hamilton: “I feel sorry for anyone that is going to be your driver in the future!”

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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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60 comments on “Verstappen says his comments on Grosjean’s crash were “misunderstood””

  1. I would say they were more ‘deliberately’ misinterpreted than misunderstood

    1. Poorly expressed.

      Rhetoric is important, it shows a lot on a person.

    2. They were but Max makes it easy for his comments to be misinterpreted because he says everything so bluntly.

      “As drivers we know the risks when we get in the car and if anyone has doubts they should consider stopping racing” and “I don’t get why you wouldn’t race. If I would be the team boss I would kick him out of the seat” ultimately mean the same thing but one is clearly a lot softer and makes it harder for those who don’t like Max to spin it in a negative way.

      Ultimately, I agree with him. I used to kart a lot and I remember a crash where someone got wheeled away into an ambulance and the race was then re-started. There was a weird nervous feeling getting back into the kart but it quickly passed and we all got on with it because that’s what we were there to do… If the idea of crashing a car makes you not want to drive a car, the last thing you should do is race one.

      1. Please don’t change the question. The question is simply ‘would you continue on the on going race’ I can’t understand why people are turning the question upside down. For Max it is clear that he did not understand the question. His answer was off point and should not get a praise for that.

        1. Jack In accusing others of turning the question upside down you have done just that. The question was not as you suggest…’would you continue on the on going race’…the question was should drivers be given the option to race or not after seeing an accident like RG had. Neither Max nor LH think the drivers should be given the choice…they should just race, as in LH’s opinion F1 will have determined it safe to race, and with Max if you are scared then you don’t belong in the seat.

      2. Agree. Danger is the reality of our sport. No one has a gun to our heads forcing us into our cars. If you do not think it is safe, drive slower or stop completely. If you choose to stop, then your employer has every right to seek an alternate arrangement.

  2. Well, eh, right.

    Feel that echoing Jack Aitken’s tweet is probably best response

    don’t wish upon anyone the experiences that would make him realise how wrong he could be.

    He later added:

    It’s not anything more than saying we’re all human, and that scene was traumatic, especially not knowing Romain’s condition immediately. We’re here to race, yes, but not under any circumstances. Knowing he was ok certainly made it a lot easier for them, I’m sure.

    to elaborate, and I think that’s just about it.

  3. Yes Max, it’s always the fault if someone else, it’s never you!

    Apologies Max for misunderstanding that ‘kick out’ actually meant that you would kick out a driver from your team and ‘then you never sit in the seat again’ means that you would never sit in the seat again. I came to my position based on the English understanding of the words you used. Given time, I’ve now reconsidered my position and can see how ambiguous your words were and how their meaning could be open to interpretation. How silly of me! Please accept my apology.

    1. How silly of me! Please accept my apology.

      Of course George.. you probably just liked the interpretation that suited your views on max..
      No problem.

      1. My comments were in jest!

        The onus is on the person making the comments (in this case Max) to be clear rather to blame everyone else for misunderstanding. The confusion has arisen because Max is now saying that he holds a position different to the opinion that he expressed using his own words on Sunday, rather than the fault of the all the people reading his comments and concluding that he meant what he said. It’s a lesson that everyone can learn from, regardless of job!

        1. On the Marbles
          2nd December 2020, 16:16

          I agree, there’s not a lot that is ambiguous about how he said it. Although to be fair English is not his first language, even though he speaks it better than many for whom it is! I think his only defence is that he might argue that because of that he maybe didn’t pick quite the right words to express what he meant…. and if you believe that……!

        2. I’d like you to post comments in Spanish from now on please. Take into account that we are not speaking English as good as you do. The whole world tries to speak english. Put some interest in other languages. It works from both sides

  4. He is sounding like a 2 bit scumbag politician from around the world. Like father like son.

    1. Yep, like the last person involved in a massive fire and kept racing..
      Good example indeed.

      1. omg.. I bet Chaitanya didn’t realize that one

      2. It isn’t factually correct (Irvine 95) nor does it have anything to do with the point. Verstappen is actually saying he would’ve kicked out Berger in 94 after the Senna incident.

    2. For me he sounds like a Twitch streamer who verbally rages.

      1. Twitch streamers are generally more entertaining, tho :/

        1. But some people slam their desks in rage…and then there’s one streamer who bangs his desk to the music.

  5. I would like to think Verstappen will regret those comments in the future.

    1. Portugal is a 100% regret.

    2. Ah, the foibles of youth. Not holding my breath that he’ll get better with time, tho.

    3. To be clear I am really not a fan of Max! At ALL! However… I think it’s very unfair to judge him on the comments he makes. He is young and naive. I think he deserves a bit of slack.
      Just think how you might cope growing up in the spotlight. Your every word and action scrutinised and dissected. Had my younger years been played out in public I would be viewed as an imbecile Ant christ! When the truth is I’m a very normal, average person. I’m sure that stands for many of you too!
      Lewis went through the same thing that Max is now going through and his naive comments and actions from his younger years are the reason why many dislike him. Which is, of course, nonsense.
      Let these guys make their mistakes. Let them grow without ripping them to shreds! Just think how YOU might have handled their situation!

    4. Here’s the thing: Max is never going to win a championship unless he gets into a top team. RBR isn’t that team anymore.

      This type of unfiltered comment, as with the last one re: ‘Mongols,” would keep him out of those rarefied seats, leaving him to sell fizzy drinks to an audience of loyal fans while never achieving a WDC.

      He doesn’t need much of a filter to accomplish his dream, but in an atmosphere of uncritical adoration, he’s not likely to develop one.

  6. Max in the press conference basically said the same as Lewis (“we’re here to do a job”). Then Lewis turned it round, jokingly, because had talked about kicking out a driver. I also give Verstappen the benefit of the doubt because he’s a young driver and all of them need to psyche themselves up to race around a track at massive speeds on the edge of grip (and spinning off) to perform at this level. For me it was just a clumsy way of expressing that reality.

    1. Many non-english drivers speak pretty good English, but I get the idea that people forget that it is not our first language, English is a language with lots of subleties, and what sounds reasonable in Dutch, can come over as arrogant in English for instance. And sometimes people make way too much of what’s been said.

      1. I agree completely, only in this case I didn’t really mean clumsy with his use of language, more the way he repeated explicitly what Lewis had kind of implied (which was “it’s our job”, implying that he’d at least expect everyone to race).

      2. I’m sorry, my first language is Dutch and even in Dutch it sounds arrogant.

        1. Zelfs in het Nederlands is het duidelijk en zeker niet arrogant.

          I had to react to Tim as it’s hard to translate Dutch > English > Dutch some where the meaning in the message is coming out wrong. That is when you speak English but think Dutch if you are speaking English al the time (without going back to Dutch) after a few months you going think in English. What i mean to say here is before that you can expect misunderstanding any situation coming up.

  7. I love my dutch neighbors but he really perfectly fits the stereotype. Talk without filter, unfortunately ever so often not realizing when the border has been crossed.

    1. Dutch borders reach far. For me it is easy to understand and “read between the lines”. F1 drivers are not the only ones with dangerous jobs. Every day people get killed doing their work. And yet everybody goes out every day and do their jobs. If you don’t chose something else to do or your boss tells you so.

  8. Pretty sure we all understood what he meant and he meant what he said. As I said at the time, it was just the sort of remark a Young person with little responsibility for others in their professional lives would say. It’s more a reflection of the attitudes of younger people (generalising to the extreme), very direct and absolute. I never took it as a big negative point for Max, just ill advised to say knowing how it would be perceived.

  9. Max is the perfect andidote against the toxic carebear generation

    1. Indeed. Far too many corporate drivers now who can’t/won’t say what they want.

      “He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”
      Brigham Young

      1. Yeah, he of 55 wives…
        He also had some fairly rotten views in other aspects of society, that I shall not go into here

        Therefore, I would certainly not be willing to be guided by the moral direction from him

        G

  10. I would say “I would let them rest for one weekend” instead of that…

  11. While driving has improved, the talking bit has some work to be done.

    1. Being honest is a good thing.
      But you probable like PR puppys.

      1. On which day was he being honest? The day he said the thing or the day he tried to pretend he didn’t say the thing? Hasn’t he just proved himself the ultimate PR Puppy, willing to literally change his stated opinion after criticism hurt his eggshell skin?

      2. Honestly, just because an opinion is honest does not automatically make it a good or better opinion. People jeer and whine about PR incessantly while forgetting that F1 is a whole ass sport built on public relations and image. It’s not an illicit street race where just anything goes.

  12. If you see what Max said in its entirety then it’s just telling it like it is. Back in the pre carbon fibre, pre HANS, re-halo, pre-fuel cell, pre high sided cockpit and fully full crash tested era you could be the victim of an accident not of your own making and die. Nowadays you’ve got a massively better chance of surviving, Romain’s accident proved that.

    As a driver, refusing to get into a current spec car and race, when you can easily control your own speed to be safer, and the actions of others are unlikely to kill you, says you no longer want to race under any circumstances. This is fine, our survival instinct would make most of us desperately slow on a race track, but don’t occupy a seat that many others could do better in.

  13. Goes to show that Max doesn’t need people threatening to go to the UN for him to review his own remarks ;)

  14. I love Max when he’s outspoken, but even for him this is a bit of a stretch. I mean if a driver really feels uncomfortable to drive, he shouldn’t just be kicked out on the spot. I’m not sure that’s going to do the team and the driver any favours. Sure if it happens every week then ok, but Lauda for example pulling into the pits in ’76 and then winning the championship in 1977 springs directly to mind.

    1. But that is what he means: If a driver feels uncomfortable why is he then racing he should retire and make place for a other driver.

  15. Back in the 60s and 70s there have been occasions where the drivers refused to race due to lack of safety, not just individually but also organized strikes. Circuits have been taken off the calendar because the drivers refused to race on them. If the drivers don’t speak up about their safety concerns nobody else will do so on their behalf, and if their words fall on deaf ears they are certainly within their rights to refuse to race. Otherwise nothing would have changed safety wise since the 1960s, we’d still have a few fatalities every year to this day.

    1. On the Marbles
      2nd December 2020, 16:26

      This is a good point. I guess it depends on the reason why a driver doesn’t want to race; i.e. is it because they are upset at what happend or because they have genuine concerns that there is a related safety issue that needs addressing. The former suggests maybe they are in the wrong business, the latter that maybe they have a point. I think that perhaps it’s different if someone is actually killed, particularly a team mate, and Max does rather clumsily suggest this, but even then in bygone eras that rarely made much difference to driver’s willingness to keep racing.

  16. I think Verstappen is basically right, and Hamilton essentially said the same thing. Unfortunately the sharp way he said them took away from the discussion itself. I think too Hamilton was probably looking to get under his skin.

    But ultimately they are right. if a racer is not prepared for what happened to Grosjean, or even what happened to Bianchi, then they have not reached an honest reckoning with the risks of driving a race car.

    1. Which one of them is right do you think? Should the Fia hold ultimate say over whether a track is safe, and the punishment for not racing be a fine – or should the teams hold the power and the punishment for not racing would be being fired from your seat? Because deciding who should hold that power in the sport is a vast divergence of opinion.

      1. The team bosses and management have the power to make contracts with the drivers and put drivers in the empty seats. Not saying anything about how it should be, that’s just how it is. I suppose the FIA would refuse to sanction an event if there were known problems, like damage to the track.

        It also doesn’t really matter, because everybody drove last week. And I’ve not heard of anyone who had to be coaxed into driving.

        But my point, and I think Hamilton and Verstappen’s main point, is the driver should be ready to pay the ultimate price. That is part of motorsport, and even formula 1 hasn’t been able to remove that risk. The lower series are even more dangerous.

        And I really don’t think what Max said matters. It doesn’t matter because everybody was ready to go.

  17. If I were a team boss and there was a nasty accident without victims, and one of my drivers would lose heart because of it while there was no direct link to his own team or car, then I would be pretty desperate. I would not fully trust that driver anymore.

    1. The point I implied is that it is a team sport, there are hundreds of people working to make the driver perform well, and if the driver decides to let them down that’s very bad.

      OTOH if the accident is so severe that many team members would rather leave, then of course it is better that the drivers don’t press on. But I’d always prefer to talk and decide about it in the team first instead of people forcing the issue on their own.

  18. Uhoh is it time for people pretending to be really offended at max again?

  19. Max, just like you engage the gears on the car engage your brain before you make unhelpful comments. Seeing a crash will cause concern all people react in different ways and the car are developed and tested for the best safety at this current time, all drivers know the risk of what they are doing and they do it for the love thrill and the testing of there skills never mind what team they are racing for or aspiring to race for in the future.

  20. Non news. Racing is dangerous. The public know it. The drivers and teams know it.

    Contractual terms are going to be individual. If someone doesn’t want to race after a crash… They are out. There is a line of people waiting for a drive.

    What is to be discussed however is the financial compensation.

  21. Thats why is so important kids go to school. Because if not they’ll be misunderstood everytime they try to express themselves.

  22. The kicking out comment was cringe macho and unnecessary, but both Verstappen and Hamilton wants teams to force drivers to race after a serious crash which is similarly hard IMO. How would Hamilton make drivers to go out then? Threaten with a fine?

    1. Surprise surprise. Balue makes this about Lewis. You seem like you are in a world of pain Balue. You’re the gift that keeps on giving

  23. Well, this site is for everybody. Pro and contra. Expert, novice, bashers, fans etc.

    1. But not for hateful stuff.

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