FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

Mercedes chairman says Max Verstappen’s career is in danger

 MERCEDES team chairman Niki Lauda warned that Dutch teenager Max Verstappen is in danger of wrecking his own career if he continues with the over-aggressive driving, insolence and arrogance that he said he displayed in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Speaking after a stormy conclusion to a fiery race won by Lewis Hamilton ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, the three-time world champion blamed him for a first lap collision with Rosberg that “could have cost Nico the championship.” Lauda said the 19-year-old Verstappen’s driving was “not acceptable”. “Nico was clearly in front,” he said. “And Verstappen then rams him off the track. This could have cost Nico the championship. It is not acceptable.

“It’s Verstappen’s fault. He drives too aggressively. At some point, he has to realise it.”

Lauda added that he also believed Verstappen deserved his five seconds penalty for going off-track at Turn One and gaining an advantage during his battle with Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari later in the race.

“That was a just and right decision,” he said. “A repeat offender like him has to be penalised.

“Helmut Marko (Red Bull’s driver adviser) should talk to him. If he didn’t drive that aggressively, he would develop much better.

“His talent is unbelievable, but then he smashes it all with these stupid actions.

“He doesn’t realise — he thinks he is doing everything right, but he doesn’t. He has to calm down.”

Asked about his finger-wagging at Vettel during their scrap, Lauda added: “The next insolence — I don’t know where this arrogance comes from. I don’t understand it. “This is a lost cause — the fury of the other drivers just gets bigger and bigger.”

Vettel said he was very angry during the battle in which he gave vent to a furious tirade of swearing and bad language.

The Dutch teenager launched an astonishing verbal attack on Vettel in the wake of their stormy battle in the closing laps of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix won.

Lewis Hamilton’s win was the 51st of his career and kept alive his title defence and reduced Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s lead to 19 points with two races remaining. Rosberg finished second.

His triumph also represented Mercedes record 17th win in a season. However, their celebrations were almost drowned out by the row that raged in the aftermath of a stormy battle between the Ferrari and Red Bull teams in the closing laps.

This saw Verstappen, who finished third before being handed a five seconds penalty that relegated him to fifth, clash with Vettel on and off the track where he had refused to concede a position when he locked up his brakes and ran off circuit, gaining an advantage that infuriated the German.

Verstappen joined the Mercedes duo in the pre-podium room before leaving with the arrival of Vettel flanked by a group of Ferrari team members. Despite threats, no punches were thrown.

Vettel’s language on Ferrari team radio was so laden in profanities that the team chief Maurizio Arrivabene eventually had to tell him to stop talking and calm down after he had lambasted not only Red Bull driver Verstappen, but also the Race Director Charlie Whiting.

“He has to give me the position — end of story,” said Vettel, having referred to Whiting saying “here is the message for Charlie — f*** off, Honestly f*** off.” In response Arrivabene said: “Sebastian, Sebastian, calm down, calm down. They are under investigation. I know that it is not fair but calm down. Put your head down and we talk afterwards.”

Verstappen, 19, said that Vettel “should go back to school” to be taught not to swear so much.