Max Verstappen hits out at irresponsible Charles Leclerc after clash

Max Verstappen labelled Charles Leclerc as “irresponsible” and criticised Formula 1’s stewards after a frantic start to the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the run to Turn 1 and tried to go around Leclerc through Turn 2, but the pair made contact.

Verstappen spun and dropped to the rear of the field and made only marginal gains before retiring after 14 laps due to the damage sustained.

Stewards opted not to investigate the clash but reversed their decision and a hearing is now taking place between the drivers.

“We had a really good start for once, so that was the positive and then I just stayed on the outside,” said Verstappen.

“I felt like I was in third and then suddenly at Turn 2 Charles just drove into the side of my car. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different there. 

“We all know that you lose downforce behind other cars, so that is not an excuse and I think he is experienced enough to know that.

“The weird thing for me is that initially they don’t even investigate it, and my whole car is destroyed. There are just holes in the side of the car. Then they started to investigate it but now it’s after the race. I mean, what more should he do to get a penalty?

“I like hard racing but I don’t think this was hard racing, this was just irresponsible driving into Turn 2.

“They had a bad start so for sure he was just trying to recover places but there’s only as much as you can do and it’s still a very long race. It’s a shame that it happened.”

Verstappen was also perplexed as to how polesitter Sebastian Vettel was not penalised for moving prior to the start lights going out.

“Then also, just watching the footage back from Seb’s start, he moves and then he stops,” he said.

“The rules say you cannot move, and that’s fine because he didn’t gain an advantage they said.

“So, I really don’t understand what’s going on today with the rules.”