The Day After: Handbags at Dawn

Coming together on-track and off, Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon made sure the Brazilian Grand Prix had plenty of spice.

And some people say races without championship stakes aren’t as interesting…

Lewis Hamilton may have wrapped-up the title in Mexico, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a race with more headline-generating power than Sunday’s Brazilian GP, thanks to the antics of Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon.

First things first, let’s discuss what happened on-track, shall we? Making the ill-fated decision to unlap himself from Verstappen as the two came around turn 2, Ocon was definitely the villain here. No, it’s not forbidden for a faster car to unlap themselves, but it’s kind of implied that in such an event, you don’t actually battle with them to do it. Furthermore, just from a self-preservation standpoint, Verstappen was ahead and taking a normal line into the corner, he had no obligation to provide Ocon more space than he did, and it was only because the Frenchman decided to try and pry a shut door open with a crowbar that things ended in tears.

Then there’s the “afters”. Understandably, Verstappen was upset, the only way he wasn’t winning the race at that point was if Helmut Marko pressed the “self-destruct” button usually reserved for Daniel Ricciardo (I’m kidding, of course) – but does that justify his physically confronting Ocon?

Personally, I thought it was more amusing than concerning. Readers of yesterday’s morning after might think I’m being a bit hypocritical given I lambasted Sebastian Vettel for his own issues controlling his temper, but my view is that once you’re out of the car, if you want to demonstrate your displeasure (and let’s be honest, this was very tame by sports fight standards) in such a way, then it shouldn’t be that big of a deal – if there had to be a punishment, two days of “public service” is probably fair.

In any case, all this just makes me hope the soon-to-depart Ocon makes his way back into F1 soon, preferably with a race-winning car. Not only is he a very talented driver, but a rivalry with some honest-to-goodness animosity can only help the sport’s appeal. Indeed, these two go back to the junior formulae (Ocon beat Verstappen to the 2014 F3 title), already didn’t much like the other, and now have even more reason to do so – it’d be a shame if this is the end of it.

Quick Hits

The only thing more amusing than this whole Verstappen-Ocon spat is the headlines it generated – from our own “shoving match” to the BBC’s “coming to blows“. If you want to see what coming to blows actually looks like, check out Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich – the latter nearly died from that punch.

Lost in all the hubbub with Verstappen and Ocon, Ferrari’s performance was extremely disappointing, especially considering their strong showing Friday and Saturday. Once again they made a crucial strategic error in starting on softs, and you have to think they could’ve stolen the victory had they chose otherwise.

On a related note, congrats to Lewis Hamilton for taking his first-ever post-title-win victory (now one-for-six!) and to Mercedes for wrapping up the constructors, even if it was under such circumstances. It will be interesting to see if they push for a Valtteri Bottas win in Abu Dhabi.

Driver of the Day

Max Verstappen: Despite starting behind both Mercs and Ferraris, Verstappen was in complete control of this race before the Ocon incident – however you feel about his post-race antics, it doesn’t take away from that.

Worst of the Day

Esteban Ocon: Any time a backmarker interferes with the result of the race, you’re going to get this award. That said, credit to him for coming out today with an apology.

Quote of the Day:

Reporter: Can you just explain what happened after the race, we saw an altercation – did [Ocon] do anything to antagonise you? And will you try and speak to him once emotions have settled down later on?

“Um, I don’t have a lot to comment on that… Except that he was being a pussy.” – Max Verstappen

Fighting words if I’ve ever heard them.