Verstappen keeps on causing a stir on almost every racing weekend lately and Mexico was no exception. This time it was his battle with Vettel and the Dutchman’s choice to retain his position after his brief out-of-track moment. Max was penalized with a 5-second time cap on his total race time, which meant the podium was up for grabs for Vettel and Ricciardo after the verdict on the incident of their own.
F1 GRIP comments on the incident and delivers its verdict.
Both drivers reach the braking area of the big straight with Vettel having the speed advantage. Verstappen realizes that the German might just have a chance of diving late and starts moving to the inside.
When the time has actually come for the brakes, Vettel is not really capable of attempting a serious move from the outside, but Verstappen slams on the brakes too late and misses the turn in.
Vettel makes the corner as he normally would and Verstappen rejoins the track right before the Ferrari, at about the same distance of clearance as before.
Should Max have given his position back? First, there are two crucial questions to answer:
1. Was Max really into battle at the point he made his mistake?
2. Did he ultimately gain an advantage?
If Verstappen himself was to take a look back on the video he would probably realize that his late braking was an over-reaction, since Vettel would have not been able to actually get him. Moreover, he ruined his chances for a good exit, which was where Vettel would most probably hope for an overtake. But the Dutchman had already moved to the inside and his late braking had all to do with the battle. He may not have gained a measurable advantage after rejoining the track, but he actually kept his position because of that and this wouldn’t have been possible if he were to stay on the tarmac. Technically, there was no advantage. Practically, there was.
We don’t think that any random mistake or any mistake under general pressure equals the obligation of forfeiting position. However, in Max’s case both of the crucial conditions exist and the penalty was rightly awarded.