After a pretty impressive Monaco Grand Prix weekend Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen ended his race buried in the tyre wall at Ste. Devote. It was an unfortunate way to end the race, doubly so when the race stewards dinged him for a five place grid penalty for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix. lt was an inexplicable decision for what appeared to be little more than an unfortunate misjudgement and a racing accident.
Perhaps we now have some better insight into the thinking behind the penalty.
Yesterday Verstappen made several claims that Lotus driver Romain Grosjean had brake-tested him and that was the cause of his race ending crash.
Given these claims were made after the stewards had handed out the penalty, these claims smelled decidedly fantastical. The stewards have access to all of the telemetry data from the cars so if Grosjean had braked early to cause Verstappen's accident they would surely have been made aware of it and tempered their decision accordingly.
Lotus weighed in on the matter today, reporting that Grosjean had braked later than the previous lap and the stewards had used this information when deciding where the blame lay.
I suspect that Verstappen's attitude played some role in the handing out of the penalty. A refusal to accept the evidence and continued attempts to blame Roman Grosjean suggest a level of arrogance which could prove to be a danger to Verstappen and other drivers.
The Dutchman's advisors, the Toro Rosso team and his father (former F1 driver Jos) need to sit him down and explain what evidence is and how it can be used to reconstruct an accident. Whilst their may be instances when the evidence might prove inconclusive, this isn't one of them. The best route for Max would be to accept the blame, learn from his mistake and apologise to Romain Grosjean for ruining his race.
Max clearly has a prodigious talent. Controlling his aggression whilst maintaining his speed is going to be a tricky juggling act, but one he is going to need to master if he is to deliver on the potential he has to succeed.