LE CASTELLET, France (Reuters) - Max Verstappen jokingly suggested Sebastian Vettel should change his style after the Ferrari driver lost the Formula One championship lead with a first lap collision on Sunday.
The comment was one that Red Bull’s 20-year-old Dutch driver, who finished second to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at the French Grand Prix, has himself heard frequently enough this season.
“Honestly, it’s not acceptable. That’s what they said to me at the beginning of the season, so I think they should do the same,” Verstappen told reporters.
“And then, of course, Seb shouldn’t do anything and just drive again and learn from this and go on. That’s my advice to everyone in this room.”
Verstappen has finished on the podium in three of the last four races after an accident-prone start to the season.
Vettel had started third on the grid at Le Castellet, behind Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, but blew his chances in a matter of seconds.
The four-times champion collided with Bottas, with both cars dropping to the back of the field, and was given a five second penalty for causing the accident. He ended up fifth with Bottas seventh.
Asked about Verstappen’s comment, Vettel refused to rise to the bait.
“I’m too old for this stuff,” he said with a smile, adding that with hindsight he would have been better off making a slower start and then fighting back.
“My start was very good but then I had no place to go,” he said. “I tried to get out of it but in turn one it got very tight.
“I was very close to Lewis in front and Valtteri tried obviously to get his position back. He was under pressure from Max as far as I saw as well. And then I had no grip and lost the car,” he added.
“There wasn’t that much that I could have done differently.”
Hamilton, who won and now leads the championship by 14 points, felt the sanction should have been tougher.
“When someone destroys your race through an error and it’s only kind-of a tap on the hand really, and they are just allowed to come back and still finish ahead of that person that they took out, it doesn’t weigh up,” he said.
“Ultimately, he shouldn’t really be able to finish ahead of him, because he took him out of the race.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ian Chadband