Fury and Karma: An In-Depth Look at The Verstappen/Ocon Clash
It is kind of hard to explain the emotion I felt when I saw Force India’s Esteban Ocon punt the Red Bull of Max Verstappen out of the lead during yesterday’s awesome race in Brazil. Despite not being Verstappen’s biggest fan, I was quite annoyed that Ocon pulled off such a silly move, but like all things, there is two sides to every story.
Looking at Ocon’s previous moves that he quickly referred to across social media in defence after yesterday’s spat, he went on to say that he had pulled off that move on other drivers throughout the race around the outside of Turn 1 successfully, and went as far as proving it with still images of his attack on Fernando Alonso early on for 15th position. However, this was clearly a move that no points or race victories were in risk of, and it was not on a lapped car, so what gave Ocon the right to pull such a move on Verstappen, the car that had just lapped him?
Well, for one, Ocon had a set of the supersoft compound Pirelli tyres as opposed to Verstappen’s softs so obviously Ocon was the faster of the two. Ocon asked for the opinion of his team on what to do, with the team agreeing on the idea of him unlapping himself from Verstappen, with Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer confirming this. I think it was just strange on how Ocon just went for it as if it was a move for the lead, rather than try a safer option. FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting believes that if Red Bull had saw Ocon was clearly faster than Verstappen, then they would have told Verstappen to let him go as to get him out of the way.
Secondly, regardless of whether you think Ocon was right or wrong, you have to ask, what was Verstappen doing closing him down so hard going into the corner. In my honest opinion, I do think Ocon shouldn’t have done what he done, but would it not have been in Verstappen’s interests to give the bit of room, lose the bit of time and then pass him again? Had Ocon not significantly gained ahead of Verstappen, he would have been just shown blue flags to which he would have to adhere to anyway and Max would’ve gotten though without much hassle. Ocon would go on to get a 10 second stop/go penalty for his actions, while Verstappen lost the lead he fought so impressively for to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and despite a good comeback with a damaged car, Verstappen could not launch another attack on the British World Champion. Like I said I’m not a fan of Verstappen, but to see his amazing overtakes and driving and to get taken out like that is just sad.
Ovbiously, the after race tussle between Verstappen and Ocon was as much of a talking point as the incident itself, if not more. Verstappen told his team on the radio after the race that he hopes to not see Ocon after the race, but at the FIA weigh in room tensions boiled over. Verstappen confronted Ocon and started pushing and shoving him in fury over the incident prompting the pair to be broken up by FIA officials.
Verstappen confronts Ocon post race.
This would later see Verstappen sentenced to two days Community Service at the request of the FIA for his actions. Now this I don’t condone this either and of course in a sport where millions of people are watching, including young children who consider these drivers role models you can’t allow this to happen, but it was in a way good to see emotions being shown. Nowadays drivers are criticized for being too much like”robots” and “PR Machines” and are often accused of being afraid to speak their mind or let their emotions flow and in a way you can see why Verstappen was so mad.
The video of course of the scuffle went viral across social media and got people talking about F1 once again, which is in a way good to see, we need drama to draw people in. People still remember with awe 20 years ago in Spa when Michael Schumacher stormed into McLaren’s garage to have it out with David Coulthard after the pair collided in similar fashion in the rainy conditions, of course Schumacher leading, and Coulthard being lapped. Even who can forget when Ayrton Senna went as far as punching Irish rookie Eddie Irvine in 1993 in Japan after the Jordan driver unlapped himself twice from the Brazilian driver. These are moments of tension and drama that engages the fans in the sport, builds a bit of a plot if you like and draws people in, which in F1’s current state definitely isn’t a bad thing.
Noticeably, Max’s father Jos Verstappen has been incredibly quiet over the whole incident and of course we know why. Verstappen Sr was the one that denied Juan Pablo Montoya his first F1 victory at the very same race in 2001 when he crashed into Montoya after the Colombian lapped his Arrows. Montoya was furious over the incident after a brilliant drive all race, so Jos knows all too well what it is like to be in the position Ocon is in now.
Do you think Ocon was right or wrong to pull off the move, and do you think Verstappen was right to confront him the way he did? Drop those comments below!