The FIA, governing authority of Formula One, wanted to make an example of Max Verstappen after he was given a penalty for shoving Esteban Ocon at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. Verstappen’s punishment was to carry out a community service order. Cleaning the streets? picking up litter? saving the whales? voluntary work? the latter is getting close.
Max Verstappen’s actual punishment was to effectively promote the FIA Formula E Series. Free marketing, Max-imum publicity from the next generation golden boy of Formula One.
Verstappen’s punishment was as easy as putting up your feet on a desk and reclining back in a high-back office chair. He served one day at the Formula E race in Marrakesh, observing the stewarding process.
The FIA, arbiters of fair play, advocates of sportsmanship and driving ethics, got cold feet when it came to enforcing a proper punishment.
We’re not saying the FIA should have thrown Verstappen into a high-security prison cell for the day. We’re not saying a suitable punishment is to see Verstappen in ball & chains. Nor are we saying he should be publically flogged.
Using Verstappen’s superstar status to promote the Formula E championship is as obvious as it is a non-punishment.
The FIA should have docked points or banned Verstappen for one race.
The so-called punishment didn’t go unnoticed by British Formula E competitor, Sam Bird:
“I didn’t see him, it’s nice that he’s here, I mean, to call coming to a Formula E race community service I think does Formula E a bit of a disjustice… it shouldn’t be a punishment to come here.”
On the other hand, Audi Formula E team principle, Alan McNish, thought the punishment would be beneficial:
“He’s been in front of the stewards many times – not necessarily like that!” McNish told Autosport. I actually think that it’s a good thing for a driver to do, generally.”“When I stopped racing I acted as the drivers’ steward in F1 on a few occasions and it changed my opinion of stewards.”“You get a better understanding of the mechanisms of the sport – one that you only ever see as the policemen, if you like.”
However, seeing at how bored Verstappen looked, it’s probably a fitting punishment.