Max Verstappen has queried his five-second time penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, relating the event to a similar wheel-to-wheel duel with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil and said it’s “interesting” that he was the only one punished.
On the first weekend of December, Formula One’s inaugural visit to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit resulted in a slew of incidents in a frantic race that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
Only 15 cars finished owing to two red flags, several safety cars, and virtual safety cars; Mick Schumacher, George Russell, Nikita Mazepin, Sergio Perez, and Sebastian Vettel all had DNFs due to incidents and crashes.
Hamilton won his third race in a row, following successes in Brazil and Qatar, and now leads his Red Bull adversary by 369.5 points heading into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen was in the thick of the Saudi Arabian action and had numerous tense battles with Hamilton, who crashed with the Dutchman’s back on lap 37 and suffered front wing damage.
At the start of the same lap, Hamilton used DRS to pass Verstappen down the start/finish straight into Turn 1, only for the Red Bull to maintain his line into the corner, forcing both cars wide.
Verstappen received a five-second penalty for running off the track and securing a permanent lead, and Hamilton was unable to pass him until lap 43.
Nonetheless, the 24-year-old thought the maneuver was comparable to an occurrence in Interlagos, where aggressive defending from himself on lap 48 of the Brazilian Grand Prix saw both cars drive wide and off the track at the outside of Turn 4.
Verstappen felt the penalty was uncalled-for stating:
“When they told me that I had the five-second penalty, it was not worth fighting [Hamilton] anymore because I would never pull a gap of five seconds.
“So yes, a lot of action, a lot of things that happened. I think ultimately, we didn’t really have perfect pace in the race, maybe also the medium tyres were not amazing to the end.
“I think the hard tyres [of Hamilton] had a bit more life in them I think, but as always, it’s easy to say afterwards.
“At the end, that five-second penalty I don’t think is correct but at the end of the day I don’t want to talk about it that much because they don’t deserve any words coming out of my mouth.
“I find it interesting that I am the one who gets a penalty when both of us ran out of the white lines. In Brazil it was fine but suddenly [here] I get a penalty for it.
“You could see both of us didn’t make the corner. But it’s fine, I also don’t really spend too much time on it. We have to move forward.”