Ex-McLaren driver slams shameless media bias against Max Verstappen

Felix Rosenqvist took to Instagram to express his frustration with the media's blatant bias against Max Verstappen after Sunday's Formula 1 incident.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 / Vince Mignott/MB Media/GettyImages

McLaren's Lando Norris and Red Bull's Max Verstappen have been the top two drivers in Formula 1 for the better part of the 2024 season, and that was no different this past weekend in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Over the last six race weekends leading into the 71-lap race around the 10-turn, 2.683-mile (4.318-kilometer) road course in Spielberg, Styria, Austria, the pair had finished 1-2 on five occasions, with Verstappen winning on four of them.

But on Sunday, a contentious battle at the front ultimately led to contact between the two drivers, knocking Norris out of the race. Verstappen, who dropped to fifth place due to an unexpected pit stop for a puncture, was issued a 10-second time penalty, though it had no effect on his race result.

Having been foaming at the mouth for three years for the opportunity to push the same narrative they pushed throughout the entire 2021 season, the mainstream media took full advantage of the incident and have since made countless irresponsible, irrational, and unprofessional claims about the 26-year-old Dutchman.

Not only was the contact blown totally out of proportion simply because of who was involved, but Verstappen's overall maturity as a driver was questioned. And it's not just the usual bias which fans have come to expect from Sky Sports on a weekly basis.

One outlet in particular, which was among the most notable outlets to push this particular agenda during Verstappen's season-long title battle with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton three years ago, crossed that line.

Ex-McLaren IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist was having none of it.

Though the "clicky" social media impression-boosting approach over the last week has been to attack the three-time reigning world champion, Rosenqvist shared the article headline on his Instagram story, which expired after 24 hours, and stated: "And the media also hasn't changed from being biased..."

Rosenqvist competed for the Arrow McLaren team from 2021 to 2023 and finished as high as eighth place in the championship and fourth in the Indy 500.

While Verstappen unquestionably could have done more to avoid the incident, the same can be said for Norris, and that's where the idea of bias comes in. It's not that Verstappen is innocent; it's that he's nowhere near the villain he's been portrayed.

The fact that the media have portrayed Norris as a saint and vilified Verstappen, though entirely predictable, goes to show that inherent and seemingly unending bias and an unwillingness to value reality over a completely one-sided agenda.

Let's not forget why Verstappen was penalized. He was penalized for causing a collision, not for "moving under braking".

The entire argument condemning his driving style has been that he veered left, and while he was indeed angled left, he was simply taking the usual racing line into the tight, uphill turn three corner. He certainly could have been more aware of his surroundings, but Norris also had more than enough room to avoid contact after making his extremely late lunge.

There has been a desperate craving over the last three seasons, during which time Verstappen has amassed 41 race victories, to dig into the archives and bring up Verstappen on-track clashes from a bygone era to push this agenda, and Sunday's incident provided them with that opportunity. To nobody's surprise, they took full advantage.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella claimed that the entire world knows who is responsible for the incident. He's obviously well within his right to defend his own driver, but fortunately the "entire world" is not dictated by a predetermined media agenda and does still consist of plenty of individuals such as Rosenqvist, who aren't merchants of the party line and have no issue calling out such blatant nonsense.

It's not just Verstappen, either. The British media couldn't stand Nico Rosberg during his battle with Hamilton in 2016, and their disdain for Michael Schumacher during his battles with Damon Hill eventually led to the seven-time world champion cutting off the press.

Verstappen's 2022 boycott of Sky Sports was not unprecedented by any stretch – and neither was the media's "undeserving champion" label, simply because the driver they wanted to win didn't win the title the year before.

Next. Formula 1: Lando Norris dug himself a hole with 'mistake-free' claim. Formula 1: Lando Norris dug himself a hole with 'mistake-free' claim. dark

And since a contingent of fans still feel the need bring it up whenever Verstappen puts on a helmet, let's not neglect to mention that, had roles been reversed in Abu Dhabi three Decembers ago, the championship-winning overtake would have undoubtedly been considered the single greatest maneuver in Formula 1 history, and nobody would remember the name Michael Masi.