Max Verstappen’s manager has denied the controversial young Dutchman will interfere with the outcome of the world championship.
The 19-year-old incurred the wrath not only of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but also Mercedes chiefs Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, after clashing wheels with Nico Rosberg in Mexico.
Lauda called it “unacceptable”.
“His head has grown too much and he drives now with an incredible arrogance,” the Mercedes team chairman said.
German newspapers including Bild are worrying that Verstappen will continue to fight so hard in Brazil and Abu Dhabi that he might crash into Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton and affect the outcome of their title battle.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted: “Max does not see Nico fighting for the title, he sees an opportunity to attack. That is why he is such a great driver.”
But former driver Christian Danner, now a commentator for German television RTL, agrees with Lauda that Verstappen’s attitude is unacceptable.
“What he did in Mexico in the first corner is a lack of respect for a colleague, even more so for the championship leader,” he said.
The international press is also not impressed, with Italy’s Corriere della Sera declaring: “Verstappen combines the talent of a champion with the audacity of a teenager.
“It is good for an otherwise boring formula one, but he should also respect some basic rules.”
And even a great admirer of a spectacular ‘racer’ like Verstappen, the F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, said that in Mexico, “Max should have lifted”.
Speaking to Bild, Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen moved to play down all of the hype.
“Max drove a strong race,” he said.
“He was punished because he cut the corner, but Rosberg and Hamilton were not. That’s a double standard,” Vermeulen insisted.
“We fight for every position, but we do not interfere in the world championship.”