SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen accepted blame for a Chinese Grand Prix collision with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on Sunday but rejected a suggestion that he might need to calm down his driving style.
The 20-year-old Dutch driver was handed a post-race time penalty by stewards for his botched attempt to pass the Formula One championship leader.
That meant Verstappen, who had the advantage of fresher tyres, dropped from fourth to fifth in a race he could have won and that went instead to Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel, winner of the season’s opening two races, finished eighth.
“I could see him struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late into the corner and locked the rears a bit and hit him, so that was of course my fault,” Verstappen told Sky Sports television.
“It’s easy to say afterwards I should have waited, it probably would have been the best idea but unfortunately it happened.”
The pair were seen talking things through afterwards.
The Red Bull driver has damaged his chances already this season, retiring in Bahrain last weekend after a clash with Mercedes’ four times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
He lost out again on Sunday when he tried to pass Hamilton, who has already spoken of Verstappen’s inexperience costing Red Bull precious points.
“Just at the moment it’s not going the way I like, of course. But does it really mean I have to calm down? I don’t think so,” said Verstappen.
“It’s just very unfortunate those things happening. I just need to analyze everything and try to come back stronger for the next race.”
Vettel, who had issues with Verstappen last year, said the collision was needless.
“I didn’t see him until very late, I left a little bit of room as well,” he said. “To be honest, I was expecting him to come earlier.
“I had no intention to resist because it was clear with Daniel as well that there was no point doing so. They were just too fast on the fresh tyres, so I didn’t want to compromise my race to the guys behind.
“And then obviously he did a mistake, he locked up which happens. We had tailwinds down that straight the whole race. I guess he misjudged and sort of compromised both of our result.”
The German said such a mistake could happen to anyone making such split-second decisions.
“But you have to ultimately have these things in mind and make sure you don’t crash,” he added. “He could have easily taken his front wing off, get a puncture or whatever. And then it’s game over for both of us.”
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)