Verstappen claims he reacted to Ocon smirk

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen claims that a smirk and unsympathetic response from Esteban Ocon prompted him to push the Force India driver after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Emotions boiled over when the two happened upon each other at the scales post-race, after Ocon had spun the then-race leading Verstappen while trying to unlap himself.

The Red Bull Racing driver, who went on to finish second, has been called to complete two days of ‘public service’ as punishment from the FIA while Ocon received a 10-second stop-go penalty in-race and incurred three penalty points on his racing licence.

Verstappen intimated that the Frenchman’s response afterwards inflamed the situation.

“It is always easy to talk afterwards,” the Dutchman told his home nation’s Ziggo Sport channel.

“I just wanted to look for him and ask ‘what was going on, how could something like this happen?’

“But he immediately answered ‘I was faster than you’ and said it with such a smile on his face.

“I tried to be as positive as possible towards my mechanics, but of course this second place doesn’t feel right.

“And then you meet someone like him who doesn’t even apologise for what happened and reacts exactly the other way around.”

Verstappen and Ocon had a fierce rivalry in European Formula 3 in 2014, but when asked if the incident was related to their run-ins in the junior ranks, the former was stinging in his reply.

“No, and he’s actually no competitor at all in Formula 1,” declared Verstappen.

“I just focus on the people I have to focus on, and try to beat drivers who have good material as well.”

Race director Charlie Whiting labelled Ocon’s move “wholly unacceptable”.

The 2018 Formula 1 season ends in Abu Dhabi on November 23-25.

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