Max Verstappen has laid the blame at Ferrari’s door after a first lap crash involving Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel almost eliminated all three drivers in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The 18-year-old, starting from second on the grid, made a poor start but held the inside line going in to La Source, but was squeezed by Raikkonen, who himself was hit by Vettel on the outside.
All three sustained damage and needed to pit early in the race, ended their chances of a podium finish.
Verstappen explained: “I didn’t start as well as I wanted but I got up the inside for the first corner then got squeezed by the two Ferraris. In the contact my front wing and the floor got destroyed so then the car was very difficult to drive.
“Kimi kept on squeezing but then Vettel turned in on both of us. He knew he was on the outside and then he turned in where he knew there was two cars. From there, the race was gone.”
In a battle that raged on throughout the race, Raikkonen and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel on several other occasions, and even clipped a couple of times as Verstappen defended his position from the 2007 world champion.
However, his defence drew criticism from Raikkonen, who believes the teenager’s driving style will lead to a ‘big accident’ if he isn’t careful.
Raikkonen said: “I’m all up for a fair battle and close racing, but I had to back off after Eau Rouge on the straight when I make my move I had to brake not to hit him, because he turns after when I move first time. I think that’s not correct.
“There could have been a big accident,” he said. “I had to brake from full speed and I haven’t had that from any other driver, but it doesn’t seem to matter.”
Verstappen responded in kind though, and felt the Ferraris had cast the first stone in the battle by causing the crash at the first corner.
“It’s ridiculous; it’s good television, though, if somebody’s moaning,” he added.
“Especially after [the clash at] Turn 1, when they do something to you like that, I’m not going give up my position to them that easily afterwards.
“I’m just defending my position and if somebody doesn’t like it it’s his own problem.”
Four-time world champion Vettel however tried to calm the fires between his team-mate and Verstappen, but said Raikkonen wasn’t the only driver to have an issue with the way the Red Bull Racing driver defends his position.
Vettel said: “I get along with Max, I like him, he’s aggressive, and I think that’s a strength of him, but certain movements, especially under braking – which I’ve faced – I don’t think are correct.
“It’s probably something that needs to click and he needs to understand.
“I will try and talk to Max – not now, as he didn’t have a good day, I didn’t have a good day.
“I’m not a fan of penalising people, I think it’s not the way to educate.
“I think there have been a couple of manoeuvres that… the rest of the field is not happy with his behaviour, but the best way is to talk rather than create a fuss in the media.
“We are men, and it’s best to stand in front of each other and talk.”