Seb Vettel risks the ire of teammate Kimi Raikkonen and defends Max Verstappen’s aggressive defence. After all, he won’t be doing it forever.
Speaking of testy team dynamics, we wonder how it’s all going at the Scuderia Ferrari right now. Quite aside from the tenuous state of everyone’s positions there, we have one teammate openly contradicting another in the wake of a frustrating encounter. Raikkonen was up in arms at the FIA for not penalising Max Verstappen for aggressively defending against his attempts at claiming fifth from the Dutch teenager at the Hungarian GP. While the Ice Man scathingly referred to F1 rule enforcement as a joke, Vettel counters with his own aggressive defence of Verstappen.
“I think we are here to race, I think one of Max’s strengths is that he is very aggressive, obviously sometimes he overstepped the line, but I’m against the whole policy of penalties and very complicated ruling. I think it’s silly, people outside are laughing at us. This is something we need to work on. For us, it’s a little bit tricky because there is not much we can do about it.”
The inconsistency of penalties is a problem for Vettel, but not for the same reasons as Raikkonen. To him, what’s really making F1 a joke is the liberal application of penalties to just about any situation. It’s getting to the point where drivers can barely even have breathing space to do their job. Perhaps Raikkonen doesn’t have to resort to offence to defend, but then again, we can’t all be Ice Men now, can we?
In any case, Vettel is convinced Verstappen will grow out of his combativeness in due time. He just isn’t sure if that’s the best thing for the young Dutchman or for Formula 1 in general.
“I think [Max] will calm down, give him a bit of time. As I said, it’s also one of his strong points. Of course, if you are fighting with him and sometimes the car in front is behaving unfairly, it’s not great.”
Will Verstappen lose his it factor if he mellows with age? It remains to be seen. All we know is that some of the best drivers in the world (we’re looking at you, Hamilton) are keeping their edges razor sharp well into their career. And from what we can see, it’s only hurting everyone else standing in their way.