Max Verstappen welcomes ‘hard driving’ but demands consistency
Max Verstappen has welcomed the prospect of more competitive racing in Formula One but insists stewards must show consistency if they plan to allow “hard racing” in future so all drivers are aware of their limits.
Red Bull’s Verstappen has gained a reputation as an aggressive driver prepared to take risks and while he has drawn the attention of motor racing authorities for some over-exuberant racing in the past, he avoided sanction for an ambitious move on Charles Leclerc on his way to victory at the Austrian Grand Prix in June.
Leclerc also came under scrutiny for the manner in which he used all of the track to defend his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the last round at Monza, but stewards opted to give the Ferrari driver a warning instead of applying a more serious penalty.
“If they keep it consistent then I am very happy about it because we have been lacking before in Formula One,” Verstappen told reporters on Thursday ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“I don’t mind a few touches here and there throughout a grand prix, and even if it’s not touches then I think you should be able to defend yourself. For me it’s fine and every driver knows this so we will all race the same.”
Leclerc echoed Verstappen’s views on the subject, noting that he felt more confident defending aggressively against Hamilton in Italy after stewards had decided the Dutchman had overtaken him fairly at the Red Bull Ring.
“I was completely aware of what I was doing and I want to race hard, which is what I did,” Leclerc said of his driving in Monza.
“I have changed my approach since Austria and it’s been pretty straightforward from the stewards that we can race harder.”
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo added that while it was difficult for stewards to get it right every time, drivers also needed to be responsible on the track.
“There’s touching and there’s dirty racing, so it’s important to not deviate towards the latter,” the Australian said.
“If we remain with a certain level of respect then it’s fine but if you are dishing up a little bit of dirt too often, either you get payback from the driver or the stewards intervene.
“For now, we are doing OK and controlling it. Emotions can also take over, so your initial feelings might not reflect what you think about it a little later.”