Max Verstappen returned to the Formula One paddock on Thursday and expressed no regret for the altercation with rival Esteban Ocon that landed him in trouble at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Red Bull driver must do two days of community service for shoving Force India’s Ocon three times in the post-race weighing area after they collided on track at Interlagos two weekends ago.
The angry scenes, caught on television and broadcast worldwide, continue to be a talking point in the sport.
“I don’t understand what I could have done differently,” Verstappen told reporters ahead of the season-ending race at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.
“We are all emotional. At the time I had lost a victory, so I think from my side I was really calm. It could have been much worse.
“Pushing, in any sport, it happens. I actually saw it a few days ago in football again. From my side, I thought it was quite a calm response. What do you expect me to do, shake his hand and ‘thank you very much for being second instead of first’?
“I think it is quite a normal response. But OK, I got my two days with the FIA.”
Verstappen and the Frenchman had earlier clashed on track at the Sao Paulo circuit, with the Dutch driver leading the race and Ocon a lap down.
Ocon, on fresher tyres, tried to unlap himself but the two cars instead collided in an accident that cost Verstappen victory.
Asked whether he regretted his post-race response, Verstappen replied: “No, not really because I was after an apology and I got a bit of a different response.”
He said television viewers had only seen the pushing and not heard what was said between the two, suggesting they might have had a different opinion if they had been able to.
“If you understand the whole conversation I think it’s a bit different,” he added, saying it was “something I didn’t expect to hear.”
Ocon, attending the same news conference but separated from Verstappen by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, steered clear of another argument.
“I am sorry for Max, it was his race to win, he did a fantastic job during the whole race,” he said, before again explaining his position.