Sky commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle believes Max Verstappen has been “playing the game” over the past few races, knowing he can afford penalties with his points advantage over Lewis Hamilton, but believes the FIA have no choice but to hand him penalties if he steps out of line.
Verstappen was hit with two separate time penalties from the FIA during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, one for gaining an advantage by leaving the track to take the lead of the race and one for his “erratic” braking.
The Dutchman had been told to hand Hamilton back the lead of the race after gaining the advantage at Turn 1 after a red flag restart, but as Verstappen braked to allow Hamilton past on lap 37, the seven-time world champion slammed into the back of the Red Bull, damaging his front wing.
Hamilton fumed on the radio that Verstappen had brake tested him with his “sudden” move, but regained the lead and went on to win the race in Jeddah as the 24-year-old was hit with a 10-second time penalty after the race.
But Brundle was left questioning the “way Verstaoppen is choosing to go racing” and admitted the FIA’s only choice is to step in.
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“Such is Max’s car control and cunning he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations.
“And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies, and inconsistencies.
“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous and have championed him since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2015 when he was in the Toro Rosso.