Verstappen gets warning

Max Verstappen (left) remains the centre of controversy since the Belgian Grand Prix. His Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the way in which the 18-year-old has handled strident criticism is further indication that Verstappen is "a re
Max Verstappen (above) remains the centre of controversy since the Belgian Grand Prix. His Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the way in which the 18-year-old has handled strident criticism is further indication that Verstappen is "a real talent and star of the future".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Dutchman cautioned for his driving at Spa; Red Bull boss reveals Max unmoved by critics

MONZA (Italy) • Formula One's governing body International Automobile Federation (FIA) has given Red Bull's Max Verstappen a "gentle warning" about his driving after a controversial Belgian Grand Prix.

"(FIA race director) Charlie (Whiting) was keen to show him a replay of Spa," team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports television at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza yesterday. "It was a gentle warning to say 'that'll be a black and white flag'... a bit of a warning."

A black and white flag can be waved, only once, at a driver during a race to warn him that he has been reported for unsporting behaviour.

If the driver does it again, a black flag will be shown which tells him he has been excluded and must return immediately to the pits.

Verstappen tangled with Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel at the start in Spa and then aggressively defended against Raikkonen when the Finn tried to pass him later in the race.

Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, accused the 18-year-old of forcing him to brake by changing position and expressed concern that he had acted in that way as payback for what had happened earlier.

The Formula One paddock has been divided by Verstappen's actions, which were not punished by race stewards at the time. Some felt the Dutchman had done no wrong while others condemned him.

"In the middle of the straight you are allowed to do one move as long as the other car is not alongside you," commented McLaren's double world champion Fernando Alonso.

Whiting met the two Ferrari drivers on Thursday and was set to talk to all of them later yesterday in the regular pre-race briefing.

Horner said Verstappen, the youngest race winner in the sport's history and already attracting a considerable following as a rare talent and rising star, cared little about what the others thought.

"Like any 18-year-old, (the criticism) seems to be going in one ear and out the other," he said. "He really doesn't care, he's focused on his own job, he's not intimidated by the surroundings he's in and I think that's what marks him out as a real talent and star of the future."

On the track, Nico Rosberg led Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton in another show of strength by the dominant Mercedes in first practice for the Italian Grand Prix yesterday.

The German timed the fastest lap on the calendar with a time of 1min 22.959sec, 0.203sec quicker than Hamilton.

Ferrari were best of the rest at their home track, with Raikkonen third on the timesheets but more than a second off Rosberg's pace. Vettel was fourth.

The Italian team have used the last of their season's engine "tokens" for a power boost at the track after ceding second place in the championship to Red Bull.

Verstappen was eighth.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline 'Verstappen gets warning'. Print Edition | Subscribe