2009 world champion, Jenson Button, indicated that Max Verstappen was perhaps a little fortunate to escape unpunished after his incident with Lando Norris in Japan.
The Dutchman was preparing for his first run in Q3, and was driving slowly through 130R, and Norris was keen to get on with it and start his lap.
The McLaren driver therefore tried to swoop past the Dutchman, but as he did so, Verstappen lost the back end while trying to get heat into his tyres.
The subsequent sideways moment forced Norris to take avoiding action, and the Briton took to the grass as he narrowly avoided contact.
Verstappen took provision pole with his first run, and damaged the car on his second, which proved immaterial as neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz could improve by enough.
Norris ended up in tenth, but all was not finalised yet, as both drivers faced a trip to the stewards to explain what happened.
While the FIA were conducting their investigations, Button, who is on commentary duty for Sky Sports this weekend, was asked what he thought of the precarious moment.
“He’s going slow on the exit of a 200mph corner so that’s the issue,” he explained.
The former Williams, BAR, Honda, Brawn and McLaren driver added that there was a “good possibility” the reigning champion would be penalised.
“Lando would have seen the car going slow in front, I’m surprised that he went for it, it’s just one of those things in qualifying. It will definitely be looked at.”
Button praised Norris’ awareness and quick reactions, and affirmed that Verstappen did not intend to impede the 22-year-old.
“I would say Lando was going a lot quicker than they normally do to start a lap, they normally crawl around with those tyres so I think that was probably the surprise for Max,” he said.
“Max losing control of the rear as well, it was not a nice situation for either of them, great job by Lando moving it out of the way and he also did a pretty good lap time considering.
“With Red Bull they need to go so slow because they work the tyres so hard whereas with other teams they have to push the tyre harder on the out lap. It wasn’t malicious, he didn’t do that on purpose.”
In the end, the stewards reprimanded Verstappen, but ruled that he can keep pole position for the race.
Max Verstappen wrapped up the 2022 championship after winning the Japanese GP, ahead of Sergio Perez.