Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Suzuka, 2016

Drivers aren’t allowed to defend – Verstappen

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen says tighter rules on racing have made it too hard for drivers to defend their position.

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A lot of people are wondering why Ferrari are persisting with their apparently futile efforts to have Vettel’s penalty reviewed:

Ferrari probably want to grind the race officials and stewards through the entire appeals process to ensure the officials know the pain they’ll face in case of future unfair or unfavourable calls.
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  • 57 comments on “Drivers aren’t allowed to defend – Verstappen”

    1. With this new defending rules i have to wonder if the icon battle between Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve that was the epitome of hard and fair attacking and defending would be penalized by todays rules and stewards

      1. Well, I’ve watched it a few times and I didn’t see a single instance of a driver trying to pull a block while braking. The only “controversial” thing would be a squeeze from Villeneuve to Arnoux at some point during the last lap.

        1. well most of the problem is with defending fairly… majority of Ver’s so called defending is dangerous as it is in braking zone and under heavy braking cars cant steer much around… It is not about defending he is arguing about, it is his win at all costs mentality… if you move under braking you are just forcing an opponent to make evasive action… which usually cost them so much time or causes collisions! his moves arent out of racing line corner exits, more into racing lines into corners and he doesnt use racing line to begin with, he just uses very wide or very narrow line to squeeze an opponent off… well he will learn over time… or maybe karma will help a bit…

          1. How many cars has Verstappen damaged with his moves?

            Last one that affected merc I remember is two mercs driving eachother of the road in spain. Maybe you should warn them Toto.

            1. @maxv, quite a few cars, as it happens, and one of the most recent ones did involve Mercedes – in Mexico, he damaged the front suspension on Rosberg’s car when Verstappen drove into the side of Rosberg. Fortunately for him, it was only minor damage – but I can see why, after that incident, Wolff might want to have a word with Verstappen.

            2. ahm Anon… aren’t you making a drama..?

              Verstappen only touched Rosberg, this can’t be labelled as a crash, neither was he directly to blame for the incident as Verstappen had the right to the racingline.. where Rosberg decided to stay and take on the battle.
              Nothing more then a racing incident between two racing drivers.

              On top Verstappen actually didn’t take a single driver out in his two years of F1 racing, there really aren’t many drivers out there who have the same clean sheet, especially Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel have their share in crashes.

            3. @Matn A hard enough hit that Nico’s steering wheel was off-centre the rest of the race is hardly a touch. Both drivers had the right to the racing line. Max, like LH, overcooked it.

            4. What does any of this have to do with Max’ defending?

        2. I am convinced that if those drivers were driving the current F1 cars we would see far more “on the edge/over the edge” defensive manouvres than we see today. The biggest difference between now and then is that those cars (pre mid 80’s) were basically “rockets on wheels” which had a tendency to burst in flames after a crash and offered no protection whatsoever as opposed to current cars. I am not arguing that people should drive like idots, but, as far as I’m concerned as a racing fan who doesnt want to see dead or injured drivers, they can take more risks (and should be allowed to defend like Max) than what’s now perceived as normal.

    2. I bet Alonso and everyone at Ferrari wanted to give Petrov’s family a call at Abu Dhabi 2010…

      Wolff, the other guys are trying to win the race too. If it happens that one of your drivers gets caught in a fierce battle for position (can you believe it?!), tough luck, mate… it’s racing, you know? What does he want? every other team to clear the way so his two drivers battle it out alone??

      1. @fer-no65 it’s funny how you make It Sound unrealistic that everyone just cleares the way as the Mercs battle it out in front after These three Seasons 😉

        1. @mrboerns yeah but this season at least a Red Bull can get in the mix!

      2. Danny Olmstead
        13th November 2016, 5:15

        Good point.

      3. And if all other drivers were cleared out of the way like Wolff wants… championship over, Rosberg wins.

    3. Thank you for the COTD, @keithcollantine 👍

    4. what I don’t get is how max on kimi in spa at 200mph wasn’t the move that scared the most people.

      If we don’t have an issue with that i kinda wish we had more blocking the DRS passer.

    5. To make it go on a week or two weeks after is just dragging it out.

      Yes, it is dragging it out. Yes, there is little point in arguing about it or appealing the result because the end result will always be the same. Somehow, though, the vague sense of an injustice still hangs over this incident, as though there was something unsavoury about the final result. Sort of like buying an antique prestige brand watch and then discovering it is a good quality fake, or finding out your favourite sports person takes performance enhancing drugs.
      Anyway, now there is another trophy in the Red Bull trophy room, the centre of attention in a room of proudly polished, occasionally dusted, other well deserved 2016 trophies, where passers by can look admiringly at it … it is the centre of attention right now, isn’t it? Yes, of course, why wouldn’t it be? People do look at it with admiration don’t they? Yes, of course, why would anyone think this trophy was less deserved than all the others?

      1. @drycrust why does a vague sense of injustice hang over the incident? I don’t get it. There was a rule, the rule was broken, the driver that broke the rule got a penalty.

        1. @3dom I finally found a video on Youtube which shows the incident very well. Watching it makes my blood boil. I am very sorry I had written so conservatively before. It patently looks like the Red Bull drivers successfully set up Vettel to create an incident that would guarantee one of them third place. I think Christian Horner should renounce the places attained by his drivers because it was a disgraceful exhibition of driving.
          The racing line requires a driver to move to the right so they can get around the corner at the highest speed. If you look at the video you can see this because Verstappen has moved over to what we see as the left. Following the racing line is what gives the driver the shortest time around the corner and the fastest exit speed. Verstappen then races around the corner. Vettel too is following the racing line, although he is slightly to the right of it as he is defending the racing line, which he is entitled to do. There isn’t any sudden movement at all. As Vettel braked for the corner, Ricciardo raced alongside Vettel on the left hand side of the track, so he is off the racing line, so he will take longer to get around the corner and his exit speed will be slower than either Verstappen’s or Vettel’s, and as Vettel turned to go around the corner, and remember because Vettel was the leading driver and closest to the racing line he was entitled to drive close to the apex of the corner, Ricciardo was there and drove straight tried to forced Vettel off the track. Ricciardo was plainly at fault because Vettel had been ahead of him and had right of way to the apex of the corner. His intention was never to overtake Vettel, he couldn’t have because he wasn’t even close to the racing line. His intention was plainly to collide with Vettel and delay him the 5 seconds necessary for Verstappen to get third place.
          This must be one of the most unsportsmanlike acts I have ever seen in F1. The only thing more disgraceful than this incident is that the Stewards even thought Vettel had done something wrong. I cannot understand how they came to the conclusion Vettel was at fault. Both Ricciardo and Verstappen should have received Black Flags for this.
          It makes me angry watching this video. I cannot understand why the stewards didn’t get angry as well, and I cannot understand why Charlie Whiting even thought the stewards made the right decision.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6nf2UzCAAo

          1. @drycrust thanks for the link to the video. I agree that there is a decent chance that red bull kept verstappen in front to allow ricciardo a better chance at a move on vettel, I thought that during the race. So as far as that goes I can understand an injustice there. Because of those potential tactics, is that why you think vettel should escape penalty? This is a genuine question, I’m saying this because as you know sometimes in print some questions can be easily misconstrued as being sarcastic, and I don’t want it to come across that way, I very much respect you views on this.

            With the actual move itself, I appreciate that the stewards have access to far more telemetry that what we do, and so can tell when each car is and isn’t braking. But taking into account Verstappen’s line through the corner, which I think can be accepted as the usual racing line, Vettel moves left, away from this line. He initially looks like he’s going to take the same line as verstappen, but as Ricciardo starts to make the move, then Vettel moves left away from it. As you said Vettel is the lead car, so theoretically can dictate the line, but it’s the new rule that I think is the issue here, he can’t start to dictate that line after he’s started braking. The question then becomes did he move left after he started braking? I have to say I haven’t seen Vettel’s onboard so I’m not 100%, but bearing in mind that Ricciardo was on fresher, softer tyres, and that he starts to downshift before Vettel starts to move left, suggesting that he’s braking before Vettel moves to defend, then you’d think that Vettel as was also braking before he moved left to defend, as Vettel’s older, harder, medium tyre would probably have an earlier braking point/longer braking zone. As I said the stewards should be able to tell from the telemetry. But the above suggests that the new rule was broken. As for the alleged tactics, I don’t know if they can take this into account.

            1. @3dom When Vettel was defending, he didn’t actually move to the left (our right), he just maintained a straight ahead line. The racing line moved from the LHS of the track (our right) over to the RHS of the track (our left), so by maintaining a path that was straight down the centre of the race track Vettel was defending the racing line. Hence there was no movement under braking.

        2. Add also that the FIA failed to investigate the Verstappen element properly, which could easily have led to a successful protest from Red Bull (on the basis of improper procedure, which is against Statutes and thus not bound by the usual “1 hour after the race rule”). Probably the only reason that didn’t happen was that Ricciardo eventually got the podium.

    6. Sadly it seems like most of the rivals (could be rather intentionally) and some fans are missing the point of other drivers getting involved in the title fight.

      The point is that when ever you fight against a championship contender towards the last leg of the championship you should be a tad bit extra cautious while battling so that you don’t damage his car and in turn his championship. Nobody denies a wheel to wheel battle, nobody say that you can’t attack or defend against a championship contender but all you to do is just be a bit more careful….something similar is expected of drivers racing against their team-mates.

      This unsaid protocol isn’t new in motor-racing.

      1. @neelv27, I too feel that is what Wolff wanted to convey, though I think the way he seemingly did that wasn’t very smart or conductive of a good result. I did hear on Sky that apparently Jos Verstappen and Toto Wolff have regular phone conversations, I guess they are (were after this?) friends, and it sort of came up, but still, knowing Red Bull, he had to know it would be spun this way really, regardless of whether he meant it this way or not quite; not smart Toto.

      2. There have always been drivers taking advantage of the fact that title contenders can’t defend against do-or-die attempts from drivers not in the race for the WDC anymore.

        For instance remember how Kubica shoved Hamilton off in Brazil 2008 when he insisted on unlapping himself for no good reason? It’s what actually almost lost Hamilton the WDC since that meant Vettel got the opportunity to muscle through as well.

        Or remember how Kamui Kobashi was dive bombing on Button in Abu Dhabi 2009? People were actually cheering for that one though.

        Or Petrov defending “to the death” against Alonso in Abu dhabi 2010.

      3. @neelv27

        The point is that when ever you fight against a championship contender towards the last leg of the championship you should be a tad bit extra cautious while battling so that you don’t damage his car and in turn his championship.

        I disagree completely. The championship battle was no more real when Vettel hit Rosberg in Malaysia than it was when Bottas hit Hamilton in Bahrain several months earlier.

        1. @keithcollantine Well you mentioned the two incidents which were incidents at the race start. That’s where a pack of cars races to the first corner and the probability of such things is always higher. Think of Alonso in Spa and Suzuka in 2012 or Vettel in Brazil 2012 however in a one-to-one battle all you’ve to do is just be a bit more careful. Aren’t the drivers told to race their team-mates but practice some extra degree of caution? It’s similar.

          For example, VMax’s move on Rosberg around the outside of T3 in Brazil was perfect and no one had any issues with that. Every rival is free to race against a championship contender but the point is just an extra degree of caution and not any kamikaze attack.

          Also, your point on Bottas’ incident in Bahrain against Vettel’s in Malaysia refers to the time of the championship however remember that mathematically, there were 22 drivers in the title fight in Bahrain but only 2 in Malaysia.

    7. “I also said to (Jos Verstappen) it would be bad for Max if he was remembered for deciding the world championship this year through a reckless move against one of our drivers.”

      Thought both he & Niki said they care not which of their drivers win the championship?

      I thought it was Max’s defensive driving was the problem & not his overtaking? So why single him out? Should he not be speaking to Rosberg about that, given he took them both out in Spain and nearly done so again in Austria?

      What if it’s hot head Seb, Hulk, Perez or even Kimi? Is he then going to think to himself, “damn it, I should’ve called their dads too? Wait Kimi’s dad passed away…..

      Don’t care how good a friend he is with Jos, call him all he wants, but at no time should he have discussed anything about Max potentially deciding who wins the championship to his father. Because no matter what, he knew very well that Jos was going to discuss it with Max & he’d then ask him to be extra vigilant around either of the Mercedes drivers.

      Lee McKenzie also reported on Friday that Niki went to see Helmut and he asked him to not let his drivers interfere in the championship fight. They know very well that for Lewis to win, he needs cars taking points off Rosberg or a DNF, otherwise Rosberg can cruise home in 2nd and win the title.

      That for me is unprofessional and against the spirit of the sport. If this was any other sport, Toto would’ve found himself in serious trouble, because this is in effect, match fixing.

      1. Sigh! How does Toto suggesting it would be a shame if the WDC was decided by someone taking one of the Mercs out, equate to he and Niki pulling for one driver? They just want it decided between them, on the track, not by someone else whacking one of them. What’s so hard to grasp here?

        And Nico did not take Lewis out. If you don’t recall, perhaps rewatch and you will see LH going for a gap that was always legally closing, putting himself on the grass as a result, losing control, and then taking Nico out from behind.

        You are assuming TW and NL are asking drivers to back off and not race…that is not the case. Just please don’t take out one of the two title contenders and bring it down to that as the decider for the WDC. Again…what is so hard to grasp, unless you want to read way more into this than exists? Or unless you want one of the Mercs taken out and have it all come down to that? No thanks.

        1. Meredes shouldn’t be saying anything but be careful to their own drivers. If Ham/Ros gets hit. Tough luck. That’s the real reality.

    8. Sorry Max. Drivers’ inability to defend has nothing do with the rules. The art of defending died the day DRS came into fruition.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        13th November 2016, 9:11

        So it is to do with the rules then? The rule that introduced DRS?

      2. Complete nonsense. DRS is what brought back the need to defend. Otherwise the cars wouldn’t be able to get close enough to actually be able to attack.

        What Max is getting wrong is that there is a difference between defending and blocking. One is actually an art and the other is just lame.

        1. @patrickl DRS did not bring about the need to defend as 90% of the time the so called defense looks like the car infront simply pulled over to let the DRS-ing car breeze past him. In fact i’ve had a few times where my wife has asked me why the car ahead had moved over to let the car behind past him due to the dumb racing system.

          DRS is killing racing, Its killing overtaking & its killed defending.

        2. Pre-DRS, most races had overtakes for position occur. It was needed, in more concentrated forms than now (so, typically, you might need a vast range of defensive moves, requiring varying level of skill, for an average of 5 laps in a race (in practise ranging from “not at all” to “every corner of the race”, rather than the same two marginally-legal and low-skill tricks 1-2 times a lap, plus the will to prematurely give up often to preserve the car).

    9. A lot of people are seriously misinterpreting Wolf his words. He did not say the other drivers have to let either Nico or Lewis win the race. Verstappen has all right to overtake both and go on to win the race. But maybe, just maybe Toto has quite a valid point given Verstappens recent actions in Mexico. Twice he could’ve taken out Rosberg with a rash and stupid move unworthy of F1. That being said I understand what Toto is on about, it would be enormously stupid for everyone involved if Verstappen takes out Lewis in this race, and by doing so deciding the title fight. Equally annoying if a driver were to take out Rosberg, but equally if any driver took out another driver like Vettel did in Malaysia. A little extra awareness of who you are racing isn’t a bad thing in a title fight which at all doesn’t imply nobody can overtake either Mercedes cars.

      Also the fact Both Lauda and Toto felt this was needed gives insight on what several people think about Verstappen. Yes, a massive talent but still a wrecker.

      1. Your closing paragraph gives flawed logic a whole new meaning, bravo.
        The point is not that Verstappen is a wrecker, although you may very well feel that for some reason. He’s an actual racer, he isn’t going to back down. Clearly this intimidates people, including you, but it’s no different than countless F1 drivers in the past.
        Also, reckless moves that could have taken out Rosberg twice in Mexico? For someone who has watched F1 for many years I’m sure you realise that’s slightly overstating the case? Or should we just call every attempted overtake a recklesss move and use the Q3 order to decide the race?

        1. @hahostolze, I’d argue that, at the very least, in the moves which Verstappen made in both cases – colliding with Rosberg into the first turn and the attempted pass later in the race – you would have to say that Verstappen misjudged his speed and wasn’t fully in control of his car under the braking phase.

        2. Clearly this intimidates people, including you

          Hardly, he’ll provide a lot of fun for the years to come.

          He’s an actual racer, he isn’t going to back down.

          @hahostolze I love what he has brought to F1. And again I don’t want him to back down out of a move for the simple reason the person he is about to overtake is a title contender. But I do feel he should consider some of his moves, same with Ricciardo by the way, as on the edge of even impossible. One can argue they’re majestic overtakes and on some occasions they are, when they work. When they don’t, like in Mexico, they’re mindless divebombs with little to be impressed about. Nothing shy of what Maldonado tried on several occasions, on other days he’s very close to what an Alonso can.

          On T1 he could’ve broken Rosberg his suspension ending his race right there, and the second attempt could’ve have ended in a quite spectacular T-bone. I’m pretty sure many more would have shared this opinion had it happened to Lewis. Using the argument that me saying one overtake is too bold equals we should just use the Q3 order is just nonsense, that’s not at all what I’m saying, even in my first comment I said it would be fine if Verstappen can cleanly overtake both Mercedes cars and goes on to win the race.

          I think Verstappen has to go through the same process as Marquez (MotoGP) went. He went for every single gap and tried to win every single race in 2015, and lost the title because of this attitude. His approach in 2016 even whilst having the second best bike and two legends of the sport on the best bike he won the title. Marquez his entrance to MotoGP is very similar to Verstappen his entry in F1. Both very young and massively talented. One is humble and very ready to learn from his mistakes, the other prefers shouting about so it seems. That being said, he’ll get there, of that I am sure, maybe it will take a couple of years before he has an attitude that fits his massive talent.

          1. I am just wondering… did you see the interview Damon Hill had with Verstappen in Brazil..?
            They actually talked about racing incidents and the phonecall from Toto, Verstappen all played it down to being exxagerated by the media. So instead of you label it as ‘shouting around’ he’s being very realistic on the matter… even was with Jos when the phonecall came in.

            Verstappens ‘attitude’ is masively mistaken for confidence, if he had to respond to all the things drivers and media said about him, he would have nowhere to go, but to crawl in a tiny little space feeling guilty, instead he just rises above it and consistantly refers to ‘I am doing my racing on track’. This really can’t be said about Ferrari and Mercedes who’s drivers and team are making a fool out of themselves with mostly Verstappen in the centre as a subject.

            Several accusations. all prooven to be wrong, several investigations, all rejected. This is getting really pathetic.
            Mercedes know they’ll win, they don’t need to bring up Verstappen as a subject, merely cause Verstappen has a rather clean sheet when it comes to two-side crashes… which can’t be said about the Ferrari and Mercdes drivers.

            This task of spreading controversy has been brought to extremes and people seem to see through it… RBR is becoming a threath to Ferrari and Mercedes that’s seem to be the only motivation…

      2. I feel you might be right in the first bit of your comment @xtwl, however, the end is quite off – if you just read the article here where Wolff responds, he says he is a fan of Verstappen, and thinks the media spin is unfairly against him at the moment, and that it was in that context that he cautioned Verstappen to take care not to crash into the two WDC contenders, because he things F1 needs what the guy brings and wants him to succeed. Not that he thinks him a crasher.

        1. @bosyber I don’t think Toto would’ve taken the time to make the call if he also somewhere doesn’t think Verstappen is a risk for his drivers. The very essence of the idea of making the phone call seems to me that Toto sees Verstappen as someone who at times tries quite impossible moves. That does not mean he or myself cannot be a fan of his driving though.

          1. @xtwl, in the article, Toto implies Jos and him call each other regularly to talk about whatever, it just came up in their latest call – now that might not be true, but conversely, there’s no reason to not believe it is; he also says he likes the risk taking Max does, but thinks the media are quite harsh on it often.

      3. If anything, they should look at what Rosberg has been doing then. Rosberg is doing a lot worse than what Verstappen did. He actually shoved Verstappen off in Germany. Worse yet, he rammed Hamilton off in Spain (ending both their races) and shoved him Hamilton off again in Austria.

        It’s fine if they squeeze each other off when the other is dumb enough to try and stay next to their opponent after not being able to make the move stick. That’s just racing. But the dive bombing and illegal moves going into the corner that Rosberg pulls really are no different from what Verstappen did.

        1. @patrickl This has only to do with Max particularly, having already hit one of the two contenders with 3 races to go, with only two players vying for the WDC, and only 2 more races left for either driver to answer to the other contender, if indeed someone else had taken one of them out.

          You’ve lost all credibility anyway by claiming it was Nico that ‘rammed’ Lewis off in Spain. Ridiculous. Nico didn’t force LH to choose to go for a gap that was obviously always closing, legally, and it was LH that resultantly lost control of his car and rammed Nico from behind taking them both out.

          Anyway back to Max. I really like his feistiness and his commentary…everything about him feels exciting and on the edge. I would expect him to say that of course he is there to race and to win races. That does not have to mean he has to physically whack one of the two title contenders again, with now two races to go. Whacking other drivers is never the recommended tactic anyway. Why do it again, on a Mercedes, with two races to go? Asking him to not hit a Mercedes is not asking him to forgo good, hard, clean racing.

      4. Verstappen a wrecker? What other cars then his own did he wreck then? Name me one!

    10. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      13th November 2016, 8:34

      Presuming this was a private phone call, I wonder who spilled the beans and told the media/world? I guess it can only have been Jos or Max and in telling the world and (rightly) throwing Toto under the bus it shows how much respect they had for Toto’s call. Knowing Max he will probably be extra aggressive now. Tin foil hat time, but I feel like this is more protective of Nico than Lewis as well because Lewis can handle himself better behind the wheel and Nico’s the one driving for second and more likely (as he already has been) to get caught up with Max. I admit I’m being rather cynical there.

      1. They probably told Marko and/or Horner. That’s imho makes the most sense.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          13th November 2016, 9:23

          Yeah true, and then Christian (probably disgruntled) has revealed all.

          1. From what I heard on Sky @rdotquestionmark, @rinodina, it was Jos (or maybe Max first mentioned it after which Jos was asked to confirm?) who told Marko, who then, as is his wont, got all excited and huffing and puffing about it. Horner was happy to be unhappy about it afterwards, I guess.

            1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
              13th November 2016, 10:59

              @bosyber Ah right I see, thanks. Whether it was innocent or not, Toto has certainly made himself look sneaky.

    11. ColdFly F1 (@)
      13th November 2016, 9:14

      I continue to see F1 as a team sport, with the Constructors Table as the main objective.
      The WDC happens to be the more popular prize; but it is only like Sunday’s version of the Pole Position Trophy (congratulations Lewis), the Ballon D’Or, or MVP.

      Taking that into account, there are still many important fights going on in F1 and none of them involve Toto’s drivers.
      I hope Toto warns himself about the danger of his drivers potentially interfering in the constructor table fights.

    12. Im afraid I am in the camp that agrees to some sort of rule about moving in the braking area.
      The speeds involved are massive and the effect if one car hits the back under braking can be disasterous. Ask Alonso ask Webber who have both had near misses at nearly 200mph.
      Max is an accident waiting to happen with his dodge at the last second in front of the car behind. If you brake later you shouldnt need to move about. (Tyre wear excepted)

      1. Max might be an accident waiting to happen, but Vettel, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button (lol, even gentleman Button) are all accidents that have already happened, so I don’t see the point in that argument.
        It’s F1, accidents happen.

      2. As long as you accept that this will result in races where overtaking is virtually unavoidable, why should you be afraid of that opinion?

    13. Drivers aren’t allowed to defend because its so difficult to attack.

      Maybe if we had better mechanical grip, all the “racing rules” can go to trash!

    14. Not a single race without controversy. Massa got 2 points additionally to 5 sec for overtaking before the line, yet Verstappen didn’t receive even a warning for pushing others out of track and for avoiding maintaining a gap under safety car.

      If Perez would do same to him as he to others, Verstappen wouldn’t finish this race.

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