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Max, Seb and Kimi play the blame game


Despite an incident filled race, an awful lot of people were left very disappointed after just a few seconds of the Belgian Grand Prix.

First off there were the tens of thousands of Max Verstappen fans who had come to see their man take a glorious home victory. Then there was the tifosi, keen to see Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen take full advantage of Lewis Hamilton's engine woes and perhaps claim the Scuderia's first victory of 2016.

In the end, all were left disappointed. Verstappen finished outside the points, while the Ferrari duo could only manage sixth and ninth.

Unsurprisingly, all three see things a little differently.

"I had a very good start," said Vettel, "I think the best start from all the (three) people in front of me.

"I was P2," he continued, "Nico was ahead but I was right behind on the outside leading the way into the first corner. I could hardly see Kimi because I was more than half a car ahead when I turned in, and to be honest he was already in the blind spot of Max.

"Looking at it, it was a very bold move," he said of the Red Bull driver's attempt to go down the inside of Raikkonen (and Vettel) at La Source, a corner with a fearsome reputation, especially on opening laps, "trying to recover those two places in one corner diving down the inside, and that obviously was the reason why Kimi couldn't turn in and follow the lead that I was dictating as the leading car of that group.

"You can't fit three cars in that corner," said the German, "and the inside one is able to trigger trouble to the outside and that's what Kimi and myself suffered from."

Nonetheless, the four-time world champion wasn't too hard on the youngster, claiming that the Red Bull driver needs to think more.

"I think it's right to criticise," he said, "but it's wrong to try to make it too much of a story. I get along with him, I like him, he's aggressive and I think that's his strength, but certain moves, especially under braking, I don't think are correct, and I think it's something that he needs to understand."

Raikkonen, on the other hand, who appeared to spend the entire afternoon locking horns with the youngster, wasn't quite as forgiving.

"I'm all up for fair battles and close racing," said the Finn, referring to his battle with Verstappen later in the race, when, as happened in Hungary, the Red Bull driver appeared to move in reaction to the Ferrari. "But when I have to back off after Eau Rouge... On the straight when I made my move, I had to brake not to hit him, because he turns after I make my move the first time... that, I think, is not correct. We were fortunate there wasn't a big accident because of that.

"With DRS I am around 20kph faster than him and once I turn he waits and waits then turns after me. The speed difference is quite high so I have to brake and slow down to avoid him. It's not what should happen at full speed, but for whatever reasons the stewards say it is OK. If I had not braked we would have had a massive accident and I'm sure it will happen sooner or later if this doesn't change.

"Maybe it needs an accident before things get more clear to everybody," he added, "but hopefully not, because it can be bad for somebody and nobody wants to see something like that happen. Fighting hard is fine but something like that should not be correct."

Like his teammate, Raikkonen, though a man of few words, can be relied on to voice his anger over the radio, and fans witnessed plenty of that during the race.

"His only interest is pushing me off the circuit completely," claimed the Finn following the clash at Les Combes which saw him pass the Red Bull but then have to yield the position having gone off track in the process.

A further incident warranted a further outburst. "Come on, this is ******* ridiculous now," said the Finn, "he's just ******* turning when I'm at full speed on the right."

Told of the comments, Verstappen wasn't impressed.

"He should say that in Turn 1," said the Dutchman. "It's ridiculous. I mean, it's good television when somebody is moaning. But after Turn 1 when they did something like that. I'm not going to give up my position to them that easy afterwards.

"To be honest, I think that's a big lie," he added. "I'm just defending my position. If somebody doesn't like it that's his own problem."

Seemingly unwilling to talk about the incidents later in the race, Verstappen seemed only interested in the first corner clash.

"The start wasn't great, but from there I dived up the inside and didn't lock a wheel and was easily making the corner but they just kept squeezing me," he said. "I was on the inside, Kimi was squeezing me and then Sebastian just turned in on both of us. He turned into the corner where there was already two cars.

"That gave my front wing a lot of damage, and obviously the floor got destroyed. From there on your race is gone."

While the drivers argue over who they think was to blame, it will be interesting to see how the tifosi feels when the circus arrives at Monza in a few days.

Anyone remember David Coulthard's reception at the Autodromo in 1998?

Check out our Sunday gallery from Spa, here.


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1. Posted by LukeP, 30/08/2016 16:05

"As has been mentioned elsewhere, a rule akin to the IndyCar rules about defensive driving would clear a lot of the ambiguity here: to make one move off the racing line to defend your position is fine, but this must be done preemptively - i.e. "blocking" (making the move after the driver behind has made theirs) is illegal and punished with a drive-through penalty. Most drivers already obey this rule (i.e. choose to defend on the inside or outside before the driver behind pulls out) so it would only serve to prevent situations such as the Max/Kimi near-incident where Kimi nearly rear-ended Max.

RE the first corner I agree with previous posters; although Max did not do anything against the rules it is foolish to think that the Ferrarris would be able to see him diving up the inside like that. Just taking a nice line around the corner in 4th for a good exit would have made for a very exciting race."

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2. Posted by mickl, 29/08/2016 13:28

"I do think Max is a good driver but he is showing his petulant entitled teenager side in this race. He's a big accident waiting to happen with his defensive tactics.

This maybe unsporting but I do hope he gets some boos from the tifosi at Monza just to show that he isn't universally popular and you need a bit of humility in your character."

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3. Posted by Mad Matt, 29/08/2016 12:05

"First corner is covered well by Pavlo's comment below.

I'm no Kimi fan (although I've come to like him a bit over the years) but Max's last minute swerve technique is dangerous. His justification seems to be "well look what they did to me at the first corner" but that's a child's reaction and not something to do at over 300kph.

The FIA really need to clear this up, as well as beiing clearer on when you can turn in and when it's OK to "take the line" as sometimes it's considered OK and another race it's considered "forcing a car off the road"."

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4. Posted by Pavlo, 29/08/2016 11:35

"In the first corner - I think there are rules and there is a common sense. According to the rules, all three did everything right, but... if you try your luck to get inside in the first corner - you most probably will be hit, and the result (out of points) is fair. He can say that Vettel should have left more space - that's probably true - but if you get into somebody's blind spot, you risk to get out and this is what normally happens.
And Kimi should have closed the inside line in front of Verstappen, as Max loves to do. Then Max would hit him in the back, the outcome would be the same, but there would be no question who is guilty.

And afterwards, unfortunately stewards are mostly not interested when no crash happens. In the end somebody will hit Max and then probably he will be penalized.

So I think it's all fair. Max is a quick driver with good future, he just needs to learn the lesson - if you make risky moves, you sometimes succeed and win one place, but sometimes crash and lose the whole race. And here the lesson is obvious - he wanted to get back his second place, he finished out of the points. Had he acted a bit calmer, he would have fought for the podium."

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5. Posted by jackois, 29/08/2016 11:08

"Max is typical of most of the young chargers at the moment. Poor get away, no bother... just stick it up the inside at the first corner & everyone will just melt away. Whoops!

Seb is another one, I'll squeeze the first corner to hold second place... oh dear, why am I facing the wrong way?

Time after time this season we hear the commentators reporting on corners, saying they've never seen anyone pass there before, when in fact the driver who was passed had every right to turn in but knew the youngster stuffing it in, would happily sacrifice his own race & anyone else in sight to take the place.


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