Ted Kravitz has suggested that Max Verstappen should not have received a five-second time penalty for his aggressive dive-bomb move on Charles Leclerc on the opening lap of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver admitted after the race that the FIA’s decision was the correct one, despite some initial protests over the team radio.
With the drivers struggling for grip at the race start it was Verstappen who got the better second phase, pulling alongside Leclerc heading into the turn one hairpin. However, the Dutchman couldn’t slow his car down in time to make the corner, overshooting the apex and forcing both cars onto the run-off area.
Verstappen didn’t concede the position despite the demands of Leclerc, who was left furious over the team radio. After an investigation, the FIA stewards opted to hand the Red Bull driver a five-second time penalty for his role in the turn-one scuffle.
When race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase came onto the radio to inform his driver of his five-second time penalty, Verstappen was less than impressed, sarcastically responding: “Yeah that’s fine, send them my regards.”
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Discussing the incident during his post-race notebook segment for Sky Sports F1, Kravitz was unconvinced by the stewards’ decision. “Now you can look at this two ways,” he explained. “The stewards decided to look at it in a way that merited a five-second penalty for forcing another driver off the track.
“I don’t know, I’ve kind of seen that before. I sort of felt that that was sort of hard racing. You go down, you’ve got somebody on the outside, and then you’re kind of walking him gently to the outside, compromising him while then you cut in and they go off. Is that not allowed anymore? I mean, yes, it was firm. It did cause another driver to go off the track.”
This view wasn’t shared by Verstappen though. After sealing his record-breaking 18th Grand Prix win of the season, he backtracked his complaints over the team radio and accepted that the FIA came to the right decision on the incident.
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“We both braked quite late to defend the position but I was a bit on the inside,” Verstappen explained. “As soon as you go offline here, it’s super low grip. And that’s what happened. I braked and there was no grip.
“I didn’t mean to push Charles off the track, but I couldn’t slow it down and just kept sliding on four wheels wide. At the time, I was also full of adrenaline and I was unhappy with the decision. But looking back at it, that was probably the right call.”
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