Verstappen says pit lane exit shenanigans with the Mercedes drivers in FP2 at Abu Dhabi GP “silly”

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Max Verstappen found himself mired in some controversy after overtaking the Mercedes cars and Pierre Gasly on pit exit during second practice in Abu Dhabi.

Two red flags caused by Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz in separate crashes meant the other 18 drivers had very little running time during FP2.

As the session resumed with just over 15 minutes left following the clearance of Hülkenberg’s car, Verstappen was in a rush to get out and put some laps down.

Controversial incidents with Verstappen when he stopped in the pit lane in both Singapore and Mexico (along with Russell and Alonso) saw race director Niels Wittich take action before the São Paulo Grand Prix.

“As per article 33.4 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, drivers are not allowed to go unnecessarily slow, that includes stopping a car in the fast lane of the pit lane.”

With Hamilton and Russell trying to create a gap at the end of the pit lane/on the exit, Verstappen decided to get brave and pass both. The Dutchman was so close to rubbing the wall as he got alongside his fierce rival before heading down the small slope to turn left as they head through the tunnel.

On viewing replays of it, Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft started criticising the three-time World Champion for his actions.

“I think the stewards are going to have a look at this. I don’t see the need for it.

“It’s a bit cheeky that, to be fair. And now what he’s trying to do is get past Pierre Gasly, there he goes. Max, calm down.

“There’s no need for that I don’t think and then what he’s going to do now is find himself a gap out on track.

“And what has happened in previous races as it has irked some teams is that Max has kind of barged his way past the pit lane exit and then slowed down to build a gap, which is not really in the spirit of what they’re meant to do.”

There is nothing in the rules that say what Verstappen did was illegal, and Croft backtracked somewhat at the end of FP2 by stating, “technically he [Verstappen] can do that”.

For his part, Verstappen explained what happened and how the Mercedes drivers tried to squeeze him as he attempted to pass them.

“They have to move. They are all driving slow and I want to go out, because [we’re] all limited on time. They just keep on driving in the middle and then when I tried to pass they tried to squeeze me in the wall, so a bit silly.”

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool