MONTREAL (Reuters) - Formula One teenager Max Verstappen drew criticism from an aggrieved Romain Grosjean and others on Thursday after saying the biggest crash of his fledgling career would have no impact on his approach to racing.
“It will not change me as a racing driver,” the 17-year-old Dutch driver told reporters at the Canadian Grand Prix, his first appearance since smashing into the back of Grosjean’s Lotus in Monaco.
“I will keep fighting and especially when you want to fight for points, I will still go for it,” added the Toro Rosso driver, who was handed a five-place grid penalty for Montreal after stewards ruled he was to blame.
He had also accused Grosjean, once dubbed a ‘first lap nutcase’ by Australian Mark Webber for crashes in his early career, of braking early — something the Frenchman angrily rejected.
“Max is really, really talented, and what he has been doing is quite impressive, but he has made a mistake,” Grosjean told reporters.
“I find it disappointing he hasn’t learned from it. Even this morning in the press conference he was saying, ‘I’m going to drive the same way’. Formula One is dangerous, and you need to keep that in mind.
“We went to the stewards after the grand prix, I tapped him on the back and he could have said, ‘I’m sorry’. But to then say he brake-tested me is completely wrong because I braked later than the lap before.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button, who made his debut as a 20-year-old in 2000, said the sport’s youngest ever driver should choose his words more carefully.
“To point the finger at someone and say they brake-tested you, that’s serious,” said the 2009 champion. “I don’t think that happens in motorsport these days, we’re all grown-ups and we don’t do things like that in Formula One.”
Brazilian Felipe Massa, who appeared with Verstappen at the news conference, said he had not changed his view that the rookie’s driving was dangerous.
“That’s what I believe. We need to follow the rules. I said what he did was wrong,” he declared.
Verstappen, in reply, pointed out that Massa crashed into the back of Sergio Perez’s Force India in Canada last year — although the Mexican was penalized for that rather than the Brazilian.
“I’m focusing on Canada right now and maybe you should review the race from last year and see what happened there,” said the youngster.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris