1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Max Verstappen should’ve been investigated by the FIA last weekend at the United States Grand Prix, after making a “dirty maneuver” on Charles Leclerc.
Villeneuve was left less than impressed by how Verstappen started the US GP Sprint race last Saturday, where he immediately cut across the front of Leclerc.
The three-time World Champion started the sprint from pole with Leclerc alongside him; however, at the Circuit of the Americas the pole sitter starts on the outside.
Starting in second is therefore more beneficial in many ways, as it gives the driver the inside line for the first corner.
Verstappen quickly identified this and cut across Leclerc who made an equally good start, resulting in the Ferrari driver being pushed almost onto the grass.
It was certainly an aggressive move, which cost the Ferrari driver second spot to Lewis Hamilton, as his entry into the opening corner was massively compromised.
The Red Bull driver’s move was borderline, although Villeneuve is adamant that it was “too much”.
Verstappen wasn’t penalised for the incident nor was it even investigated, as it happened on the first lap.
The stewards are usually more relaxed when it comes to opening lap incidents, something Villeneuve doesn’t understand.
The Canadian believes first lap incidents should be treated like any other, something which would’ve perhaps resulted in Verstappen being penalised had his move been made on any other lap.
“Leclerc was pushed off the track, it’s too much,” Villeneuve told F1 TV. “It wasn’t necessary.
“I don’t understand why the first lap should be evaluated differently, a dirty maneuver or pushing a car to the limits of the track are things that should be investigated.”
The same can be said for Hamilton’s opening corner overtake on Leclerc, which he did whilst all four wheels were beyond the white line.
Any other lap and this would’ve resulted in a five-second time penalty, whereas nothing happened as it was the first corner of the race.
Verstappen ultimately won the sprint race and the main Grand Prix itself, to move to 15 race wins for 2023, putting him just one victory short of eclipsing his 2022 record for most wins in a single season.