The FIA has waved away Max Verstappen's comment during the Italian Grand Prix, in which he accused the stewards of "killing racing". Verstappen made contact with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas as the pair squabbled for the final spot on the podium.
The collision was wheel-to-wheel while Verstappen defended his position into Turn 1. The stewards investigated the incident and deemed it to be unfair driving by the Dutchman. He was handed a five-second time penalty which demoted him to fifth place at the end of the race, while he also received two penalty points on his license.
Verstappen does not have a clean record with the stewards, after they awarded him a time penalty following his off-track overtake on Kimi Raikkonen at the US Grand Prix last season. Verstappen was heavily critical of the stewards in that case, but race director Charlie Whiting is not coming down hard on the 20-year-old.
“I heard that secondhand,” he said when asked by Autosport about Verstappen’s criticism. “I don’t think you can take too much notice of comments made in the heat of battle, but I’m sure at the next drivers’ briefing we’ll have a little chat about that. As I say in the heat of battle, that’s absolutely expected.”
Verstappen suggested that cutting the first turn after Bottas made a half-hearted move earlier in the race was a factor in giving him the penalty. However, Whiting says that the two incidents were not related.
“They were unconnected,” said Whiting. “The "joker" as you put it was cutting the chicane, not actually gaining a place, but staying in front by virtue of cutting the chicane. Which is an advantage of sorts.
“We told the teams that we would normally give the driver one free one, unless of course let’s just say he cut the chicane the first time and gained five seconds and kept it, then we wouldn’t let him have that one. But this one he just stayed in front of Bottas. And you could in theory do that every lap and say I didn’t gain a position, but you stayed in front because you cut the chicane.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing