F1 fans criticized Max Verstappen for his aggressive driving against teammate Sergio Perez in the opening lap of the Austrian GP Sprint Race.
The Red Bull duo started from the front row at the Red Bull Ring in wet conditions. Perez made a better start, passing the reigning double-world champion into Turn 1. However, the Mexican could not keep control of his car and gave Verstappen the opportunity fight for first place heading into Turn 2 and 3.
Perez blocked the Dutchman into Turn 2 but succumbed to Verstappen's relentless pressure in Turn 3, diving down the inside to force Perez wide in the corner.
Although the move and sequence of events were deemed fair racing incidents by the race stewards, it did not sit well with fans who took to social media to express their discontent with the reigning World Champion's aggresive tactics. One fan called Max Verstappen unfair, saying:
"Max is unsafe and unsportsmanlike"
Here are some more reactions from fans:
Max Verstappen on his dominant performance at the Austrian GP
After winning the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen stated that it was important for him and the team to stick to their own strategy after the initial VSC which allowed the Ferraris to pit behind him.
In his post-race interview, Max Verstappen said:
"I think most important for me, of course, was lap one, to stay in front, and after that, we could do our own race. Of course, we opted not to box during the Virtual Safety Car and just to follow our normal strategy. And I think that worked out really well because the tire life was not that high around here. And I think our stints were perfect. So yeah, great day, I enjoyed it a lot."
"I could see already in the few laps before the Virtual Safety Car came out that we were pulling out quite a gap. So I knew that I would get them back eventually. And I think just following our own plan, I think, at the time, was the best way forward.
Verstapped summed up his positive feelings on his home race weekend, saying:
"I'm just enjoying the moment driving this car, working with the team. I think the whole weekend we have done a really good job. You know, a Sprint weekend is always very, very hectic and a lot of things can go wrong. And luckily, a lot of things went right for us this weekend. So I'm just very happy with this weekend and we'll focus again on Silverstone.
It will be interesting to see if Max Verstappen's dominance will continue at Silverstone this coming weekend, and if rivals with their upgraded cars can challenge Red Bull for race wins.