Verstappen calls for his critics to turn on Vettel

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has fired back at his critics, urging them to judge Sebastian Vettel as harshly as they did him after the German’s first lap antics in the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

Heading into the first turn, Vettel was leading the championship, but a collision with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas effectievly handed the race, and the standings lead, to Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen with the French GP trophy for second place

Verstappen with the French GP trophy for second place

While Vettel recovered to fifth after behind handed a five-second penalty, Bottas suffered damage and limped home in seventh.

The crash helped Red Bull’s Verstappen to a trouble-free second place finish around the Paul Ricard circuit, but speaking afterwards, he was eager to highlight Vettel’s misdemeanour.

Verstappen has been subject to criticism for accidents in China, Azerbaijan and Monaco this season, but after another incident involving Vettel, after a handful last season too, the Dutchman believes the same questions should be aimed at the German as he had to deal with.

“I think next time you see Seb you should ask him to change his style,” the Dutchman said in the post-race press conference. “Because honestly, it’s not acceptable.

Seconds before disaster at the first corner

Seconds before disaster at the first corner

“That’s what they said to me at the beginning of the season, so I think they should do the same! And then, of course, Seb shouldn’t do anything, and just drive again and learn from this and go on.

“I hope when we get to Austria that the journalists ask him if he will change his approach because that is what l heard for so many races.

“Mistakes happen and they happen to the best of us,” he continued. “But it makes me angry because they won’t be as bad on him as they were on me.

“All the time they came to me on how l should change my approach and these stupid comments. I didn’t change a thing and now everything is going right.”

Daniel Ricciardo missed out on the podium to finish fourth

Daniel Ricciardo missed out on the podium to finish fourth

His words off the track certainly spoke more than his actions on it. His was a routine run after the first corner. With Hamilton managing the pace at the front, Verstappen never expected to catch the Mercedes out in front.

He added: “Finishing second here in Paul Ricard is better than we expected coming into the weekend.

“I could see Lewis managing the pace but we were still not far off without pushing the car too much.”

For Daniel Ricciardo, it was a frustrating afternoon in the south of France. After avoiding the carnage at the first corner, Ricciardo was running third after passing Carlos Sainz’s Renault.

But a late stop from Kimi Raikkonen saw the Finn scythe through the field, passing Vettel and Ricciardo en route to the final podium position, with the Australian having to settle for fourth place.

He said: “I’m obviously a bit disappointed and it’s a shame to lose out on the podium today.

“We were definitely quicker than fourth place and it could have been a good battle with Max. I don’t know why yet but the front wing was damaged during the race.

“Before the pit stop we had really good pace on the supersofts, I don’t know how good compared to Lewis as he was so quick, but it seemed that we were pulling away from Kimi and catching Max.

“It was a shame as we looked quite strong. The positive is that we got some decent points but we were definitely quicker than fourth and just unlucky.”