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2018 F1

Red Bull says Ocon ‘lucky to escape with a shove’

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Max Verstappen has found support from within his team for his behaviour after the Brazilian grand prix.

The Dutchman was sentenced to two days of FIA community service after physically shoving Esteban Ocon in the post-race driver weighing area.

The pair clashed while Verstappen was leading the race and Force India’s Ocon was unlapping himself.

“It’s outrageous that an inferior driver with a Mercedes contract knocks the race leader off the track and receives only a ten second penalty,” said Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko.

“The desperate Mercedes driver who has been promised a seat for 2020 cost us a win,” he charged.

“Do I personally want to talk to him? I do not talk to idiots. I just say that Ocon was lucky that Jos (Verstappen) was not there too,” he is quoted by the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Marko says Frenchman Ocon is clearly campaigning hard for a 2020 Mercedes cockpit, but has “been an idiot since Formula 3”.

Force India boss Otmar Szafnauer defended Ocon, saying Verstappen should have been more circumspect.

“Why is Hamilton a five-time champion? Because he is not only fast, but smart,” he said.

Hamilton himself called it a “racing incident” but said it is natural that “go-getter guy” Verstappen’s aggressive on-track style will “bite you every now and then”.

As for Marko’s accusations that the Ocon incident is related to his whereabouts for 2020, Toto Wolff said he will “not go down to Helmut’s level”.

Szafnauer called it a “conspiracy theory”.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, however, thinks Ocon was lucky to escape without a black eye.

“I think Max was very restrained,” he is quoted by Brazil’s Globo. “It cost him a victory.

“This goes back to their karting days, but to be very honest with you, without justifying violence of course, Esteban was lucky to escape with a shove.”

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