F1 stewards unfair to let Leclerc off: Verstappen

BUDAPEST • Red Bull's Max Verstappen took issue with "unfair" Formula One stewards on Thursday night, after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc escaped sanction for an unsafe release during a pit stop at the German Grand Prix last weekend.

The Scuderia were fined €5,000 (S$7,640), instead of a time penalty for sending their driver into the path of Haas' Romain Grosjean in a chaotic race at Hockenheim, with both cars making minor contact.

The stewards noted in their written decision that Leclerc drove out at an acute angle to avoid a tyre changer in the adjacent pit.

In May, Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for an unsafe release after he collided with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in the pit lane in Monaco, costing him a place on the podium.

Asked about the Hockenheim incident, he said ahead of this weekend's Hungarian GP that the decision was "completely wrong".

"If they would get a fine (and not a time penalty), everybody would do it," he said. "It's not fair. To say that they gave me that penalty (in Monaco) only purely because I touched, that's also not fair. You are still releasing the car knowing that there is a car in the fast lane.

"Just a fine, it's not fair. €5,000? I mean, it's peanuts for a team.

"It's completely wrong to do that, especially if you talk about safety."

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner agreed that there is a lack of consistency, insisting that "something is wrong with the system".

Separately, five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton hopes to be fully fit for tomorrow's race after being laid low by a flu bug.

The Mercedes ace, who finished 11th before being promoted to ninth after the Alfa Romeos were demoted for clutch-related irregularities, won from pole last year at the Hungaroring, a track he has triumphed on a record six times.

"I've slept literally the last three days. So I feel a lot better," he said. "I'm hoping to be 100 per cent by the weekend. I still feel I need a bit more rest."


F1 HUNGARIAN GP Practice 3/qualifying Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 5.55pm/8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2019, with the headline 'F1 stewards unfair to let Leclerc off: Verstappen'. Subscribe