Enough excitement was provided by the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for one night, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battling their way right from the moment they heard the word ‘go’ until the very final lap of the race. Of course, the battles were clean but only until the initial restart following Mick Schumacher’s high-speed shunt.
The restart witnessed Verstappen forcing Hamilton off the track, but the race director, Michael Masi, policed it and avoided taking it to the stewards. And how did he police it? Well, by offering Red Bull the opportunity to avoid a penalty by making Verstappen start from P3 behind the 7-time world champion.
Interestingly, a similar incident took place on lap 38, and what followed was a miscommunication between Masi, Red Bull, and Mercedes; Masi demanded Red Bull that Verstappen give up his lead to Hamilton again, which the Dutchman did.
Verstappen lifted his foot off the throttle. Unfortunately, Hamilton had no clue whatsoever why Verstappen was slowing down.
Was Hamilton aware of this Masi-Red Bull discussion? Were even Mercedes aware of it? Didn’t seem like it. Hence, the Briton slammed into the back of the Red Bull. And the case only grew bigger, as the stewards took the matter into their own hands and handed Verstappen a 5-second time penalty for ‘forcing Hamilton off the track’.
Max Verstappen shocked by the FIA’s work in Saudi Arabia
Verstappen, in all fairness, did exactly what he was instructed to. However, he still ended up on the receiving end, as a mere miscommunication cost him what could have been a title-deciding race victory.
Hence, after securing the ‘Driver of the Day’, Verstappen opined that the fans had given him the award as they have much clear idea of what racing means.
“Luckily the fans have a clear mind about racing. What happened today is unbelievable. I am just trying to race. This sport is more about penalties than racing. For me, that‘s not F1. At least the fans enjoyed it. I gave it my all,” Verstappen said.
Overall, the controversy isn’t subsiding anytime soon, and there is going to be a wave of discussions approaching the FIA. But, let’s hear it from you – Do you feel the stewards could have done a better job during the closing stages of the Grand Prix? Or did Verstappen deserve the punishment?