A frustrated Max Verstappen has slammed the driving of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas as “dangerous” after the pair almost twice collided during the final segment of qualifying for the European Grand Prix in Baku.
Bottas picked u a slipstream on Verstappen down the start/finish straight on their first Q3 run and dived for the inside of Turn 1; Verstappen appeared to give Bottas space on the inside of the corner and gestured angrily when the Finn appeared to chop across the Red Bull Racing driver as they exited the corner.
The pair would stage a repeat of the incident on the second run, where both only had the opportunity to complete one out-lap and one flying lap after the session was briefly red-flagged when Lewis Hamilton crashed his Mercedes.
Once again Bottas caught a tow from Verstappen and made a lunge at Turn 1, but this time Verstappen refused to yield and both drivers had potentially quicker laps ruined as a result. Bottas qualified eighth-fastest, one spot better than Verstappen.
“It was dangerous what he was doing. Dangerous and unnecessary and not clever,” Verstappen later fumed during the post-qualifying media interviews.
“I’m preparing for my timed lap and I understand he wants a tow, but there was not one point where he was able to overtake me and brake in a normal position, so I lose my lap and he also destroys his own lap.
“I can understand it happens once … but then to do it again in Q3 – yeah, I don’t get it.”
Verstappen added that he was not prepared to confront Bottas over the incident, suggesting that the Finn should apologise to him.
Bottas was unapologetic over the incident, simply describing the moments with Verstappen as “unlucky”.
“He needs to understand I was also fighting for my track position and my qualifying result,” Bottas countered.
“[On the first run], I thought and the team thought that Verstappen was on a double out-lap as they’ve been doing all weekend. I found out in Turn 19/20 that maybe he was going for the lap and at that place you can’t back off anymore, you’d lose all the straight-line speed. I saw the only option for me was to try and overtake, which I could do but that for sure ruined his lap and also my lap.
“[On the second run] everyone’s trying to gain track position and opening the lap I knew there was probably not much time left so I didn’t have time to leave a proper gap to Verstappen. So again I saw my only opportunity was to try and fight for the track position and try and overtake. I couldn’t do it and again it ruined my lap and his lap and I think it was very unlucky.”
Images via Red Bull Racing and XPB Images