Formula 1 fans grasping at straws over Max Verstappen ‘incident’

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Some Formula 1 fans have complained that Max Verstappen wasn’t penalized at the end of the Australian Grand Prix, though it’s a case of grasping at straws.

For the 17th time in the last 23 Formula 1 races, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen found himself standing on the top step of the podium following Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Circuit, though the victory was anything but straightforward for the two-time world champion.

Verstappen dropped from first to third place at the start and had a bad restart after the first red flag. But he was able to retake the lead, pull away, stay ahead after a brief off-track excursion, and hang on during the restart after the second red flag with just two laps remaining in the race to seal his second win of the year and the 37th of his career.

Technically, he would have won even if he hadn’t held on, since the order was reverted to what it was before that restart anyway. The first sector hadn’t been completed by the time the red flag was flown again following yet another incident. But that’s beside the point.

However, some Formula 1 fans feel that Max Verstappen should have been stripped of his Australian Grand Prix victory anyway.

This suggestion is based on how close he lined up to the front of his grid box. It was never investigated, but for one simple reason: there was no violation, and the move was cleared.

The contact patches of Verstappen’s tires were all touching the surface of the track within the grid box. There was no tire-surface contact outside his designated grid slot. As a result, it is not comparable to the violations that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso were found to have committed in Bahrain and Jeddah, respectively.

It was a total non-issue.

Nevertheless, there is still a contingent of fans who like to grasp at straws whenever Verstappen finds himself adding to his trophy collection.

Let’s be honest. The sport has now reached a point where a Verstappen win has become expected — even more expected than a Lewis Hamilton win during Mercedes’ eight-year run of dominance.

Starting in 14th place in Belgium last year, he was still the betting favorite to win, which is simply unheard of. So any other result, even if it’s still a Red Bull 1-2, is treated as a pleasant surprise.

On the flip side, when Verstappen does win, there are always a flurry of complaints about it on social media, much like we saw during the era of Mercedes/Hamilton dominance. Same story, different driver, different team — (almost) every race.

All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark. Next

The fourth race on the 2023 Formula 1 schedule is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 30 at 7:00 a.m. ET (ESPN). The big break in between races is due to the fact that the Chinese Grand Prix had been scheduled at Shanghai International Circuit for Sunday, April 16. That race was canceled before the season due to “the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation”.