Mexican Grand Prix: Max Verstappen says he is 'not allowed to race' after penalty

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Max Verstappen
Verstappen has caused controversy with his aggressive driving this season

Red Bull's Max Verstappen says he feels persecuted after a driving penalty dropped him from third to fourth at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was penalised for running wide at Turn One under pressure from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and not handing over the place.

Verstappen said he did not understand why eventual winner Lewis Hamilton was not penalised for a similar incident.

Asked if he felt picked on, Verstappen said: "Yeah, more or less."

Max Verstappen & Sebastian Vettel
Vettel was furious with Verstappen after the race and gesticulated towards the Dutchman as the cars crossed the finish line

And asked whether he felt drivers were not allowed to race in F1, he said: "Yeah, at the moment, kind of. Or at least I am not."

"Ridiculous," he added. "In lap one, Turn One, the first two go off and if they don't get a penalty, that's fine for me. OK, we race. But then why do they penalise me at the end of the race? That's very unfair."

Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg also ran wide off track at the first corner and retained second place after colliding with Verstappen as the Red Bull tried to overtake.

Verstappen has been criticised heavily by rivals this year for his defensive tactics, which led to a rule clarification at the previous race in America that explicitly outlawed drivers changing line in the braking zone if it led to the attacking driver having to take evasive action.

sebastian vettel
Vettel celebrates his podiums after Verstappen's demotion

Verstappen had initially been demoted to fifth, with Vettel taking his place on the podium.

However, Vettel was later given a 10-second time penalty by stewards after being deemed to have changed direction under braking while defending from the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in the closing laps of the race, dropping the four-time world champion to fifth.

"It is ridiculous what he did," Verstappen said. "I have never done something like that, even close. Because I have moved under braking but that was when the car was still 10-15m behind me. To keep turning when there is a car already next to you, that shouldn't be the case."

Vettel swore repeatedly over the radio in the closing laps - about Verstappen not giving the place back, and about the Dutchman's driving.

The former Red Bull driver also asked his team to give an expletive-laden message to race director Charlie Whiting expressing his frustration.

Verstappen added: "He is just a very frustrated guy. He is shouting on the radio like a child and to do things like that is even more childish."

After the race, Vettel accused Verstappen of deliberately braking in unusual places during their battle.

"I had reason to be angry," Vettel said, adding that he had apologised to Whiting.

"I put him under pressure, which was hard enough with worn tyres. He left the track and didn't move [over], so you can understand why I got annoyed.

"Max was brake testing me into the first two corners. I was very upset with the fact Max held me up and didn't move and made me run into Daniel."

Formula 1: Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel on poor season

Before receiving his penalty, Vettel had defended himself against accusations that he had broken the rule on moving under braking.

"I want to look at it again; he [Ricciardo] told me to. I am fighting hard and am supposed to give him just enough room," Vettel said.

"I know Daniel is sometimes optimistic going for a gap. I knew he would go for it whatever the cost. I tried to defend; we made contact. That is not ideal. That's why I want to look at it again.

"If there was something, I will talk to him. Before that, Max was brake-testing me into the first two corners. I was very upset with the fact Max held me up and didn't move and made me run into Daniel."

Ricciardo, who was promoted to third after penalties for Verstappen and Vettel were applied, said after the race: "I thought I had every right to be there but he kept closing the door under braking. I was frustrated with that.

"I also didn't understand the start. How you can be leading the race, defend, go off the track and not get a penalty? What was different with Max's move and Lewis'?

"It was a mistake and you have to pay the price. I am just frustrated with how it all panned out."

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