Nico Rosberg may have won Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix with relative ease, but behind him all the talk was of the latest headline-grabbing action from teenage superstar Max Verstappen, with yet more calls for the Dutch ace to reign in his antics.
After a stunning performance in qualifying to start second, Red Bull’s young charger had hopes for victory in Belgium, the country of his birth.
But a slow start saw him swamped by both Ferraris, and the 18-year-old made a rash move which helped punt Kimi Raikkonen into Sebastian Vettel.
A wild first-lap then saw Verstappen go off track on multiple occasions with a damaged car, before later making contact with Raikkonen once again.
Having come into combat with the Finn already this season, the teenager’s late move at over 200mph on the Kemmel straight was what really angered the 2007 world champion.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2016
“If I had not braked, we would have had a massive accident,” Raikkonen said after the race.
“It will happen sooner or later if this doesn’t change. I am fine with good, hard racing but that is not correct.”
Mercedes’ title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have also both subtly backed Raikkonen’s views.
Back in July, when Hamilton was quizzed on the incident between Raikkonen and Verstappen at the Hungarian race, the three-time champion replied: “Kimi doesn’t make too many comments, unless it’s a serious thing. So if Kimi says it is not right, it is most likely not right.”
Defending himself, Max reckons the views on his driving are ‘a big lie’.
“I’m just defending my position and if somebody doesn’t like it, it’s his own problem,” the Dutchman said this weekend.
The 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has also had his say on the issue, with the former Williams driver warning Verstappen: “Just calm down, you’re going to kill someone.”
Many expressed surprise that the Red Bull ace wasn’t handed a penalty for his wild antics, but perhaps with so much attention on him, the FIA will keep a closer eye on their latest superstar this weekend in Monza.
The Dutchman is 14/1 to win Sunday’s Italian GP, but even if he doesn’t win, he’s sure to be attracting all the attention, though it may be for the wrong reasons.
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