Vettel feels fine for F1 drivers to show emotions after Verstappen/Ocon saga
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel defended the display of emotions in F1 after the back and forth continued on between Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen and Racing Point Force India's Esteban Ocon in Abu Dhabi over their Brazil GP issue.
Verstappen earned a two-day FIA Community Service for pushing Ocon after the race in Brazil as the Frenchman had collided with Verstappen in the race while trying to unlap himself from the race leader.
The hit cost Verstappen a back-to-back race win with Lewis Hamilton going on to win a grand prix for the first time post winning a championship. The Dutchman was irate and expected an apology from Ocon but the Frenchman defended his move to unlap himself.
This enraged Verstappen which led him to push Ocon multiple times on the weigh scale which has pulled in multiple opinions - with many against and many for, naturally. When asked Vettel, the four-time champion defended the emotions shown by F1 drivers.
"I think in the end, it’s very simple," he said to the media in Abu Dhabi. "I think we have emotions, we are human beings and emotions go both ways. They go full of joy when something great happens and you’re happy and they probably swing the other way if you’re not happy or upset.
"I think it’s clear that we’re here to fight something that means the world to us – I don’t know how much it means to you because for you, most of you… you know, for people watching it’s a show they’re watching. For people reporting about the show it’s a job.
"For us it’s a job but it’s our lives. I think we all started racing when we were small kids in go-karts and to be in a Formula One car is the dream that we all had, to race a Formula One car and then to fight for a win, so there’s something big at stake.
"It’s not like… you know, you get a piece of cake when you’ve done well and you don’t when you didn’t. So there’s a lot at stake and I think that explains the emotions and as I said, I think emotions are part of sport. I think they always will be.
"Obviously you have certain situations that give you the opportunity to talk about it a lot afterwards. I’ve been in that situation as well but I think for us it’s very clear that the pendulum swings both ways."
The German was asked of his opinion after the saga continued on in Abu Dhabi as Verstappen was defiant of his actions and added that he will do the same - even in hindsight. For him, the reaction was pretty normal.
It was quite a big exchange during the press conference where Verstappen was constantly asked about the case. "You guys like the drama, don’t you? Like two weeks after. Yeah, no, all good, in the sense that you can’t change the result. It’s of course unfortunate," he said.
"It’s always a bit weird to crash with a backmarker but that’s how it goes. I wouldn’t [doing anything differently], because from my point of view, how I look back on it is that I just passed Lewis for the lead and this season, it has been a lot about tyre management so as soon as I got into the lead, I was basically just cruising to save the tyres and somebody comes out of the pits and has fresh supersoft tyres.
"In general, I think this season Force India has been at least a second to a second and a half behind us. For two laps, maybe, you feel like you have decent pace but the guys in the lead are most of the time not pushing flat out to get somewhere, because once you in the lead, what do you want to do?
"So maybe you want to try and get past and then try and pull away but within two laps your tyres are gone, or at least, the peak has gone and you end up letting us by again so at the end of that whole process, to try and get by you’re anyway also destroying your tyres in a way so I think it’s always better to just stay behind and follow.
"Clearly that was not the case. I was after an apology and I got a bit of a different response. We are all emotional, just at the time that I had lost a victory, so I think from my side I was really calm. It could have been much worse.
"I think pushing, in any sport, it happens. I actually saw it a few days ago in football again. So from my side, I thought it was quite a calm response. What do you expect me to do, like shake his hand, like thank you very much for being second instead of first? I think it’s quite a normal response.
"OK, I got my two days with the FIA which we will find out what we’re going to do but no, from my side… You guys don’t really hear what’s actually being said at the scales. You just see me pushing. But if you understand the whole conversation, I think it’s a bit different.
"I don’t think it really changes if you’re fighting for a championship. It’s easy to say, from other people, yeah, you should have done something differently but I don’t expect to crash with a backmarker. Like I said, if you’re fighting for first or second and you crash like that it’s a different story but if you get hit like that… I honestly don’t understand what I should do differently so, no.
"For most of the people, also with the emotional side of it, you have not been a racing driver or you have not been in this position where there’s a lot to play for and we are all here to win and then you are in that position and it gets taken from you. It’s not nice and I think emotions can then take over and I think it’s really normal. Like I said, it’s just a normal thing."
Ocon did not want to get into the details of what was said on the weigh scale but the Frenchman did apologise for the incident with Verstappen. "It’s not a great thing, you know, to be involved with a crash with the leader, of course," he said.
"It’s not a thing you want to see and I’m sorry for Max. It was his race to win, he did a fantastic job during the whole race but yeah, on the other side, I had a slow pit stop so I came out in between Lewis and Max. got the blue flag after a couple of corners.
"I got away from the blue flag and I was quite fast and behind Max so I was stuck and then the team came onto the radio saying ‘you can unlap yourself if you want and if you are faster’ and as Max said, he was managing the tyres so yeah, I just went for it.
"It was important for us to get close to the top ten pack. If something happens, you know, a penalty or anything, I could have got in the points. Things that happen, you can’t come back from what has happened but yeah, that’s how it is, we have to move forward.
"We’ve been racing since a long time and it’s been close racing on track. Sometimes there were touches but you know if you’re fighting for championships or stuff it’s always the case.
"Anyway, it gets close at some points but the important thing is that it stays good racing and good fun for the fans but doesn’t go over it and that’s the important thing, yeah, but it’s been a long time that we know each other and it’s been good so I don’t see why it could change."
[Note: This story was also written by me on Formula Rapida]