SPIELBERG, Austria — Max Verstappen says he will no longer celebrate race victories by completing a burnout on the pit straight after he was told by the FIA that such a celebration would not be tolerated again.
When Verstappen won last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix he pulled up against the pit wall on the final lap and lit up his rear tyres as he accelerated across the line in celebration.
The incident was noted by FIA race director Michael Masi, who informed Verstappen’s Red Bull team that it “would not be tolerated” in the future.
Asked for his thoughts on Masi’s warning, Verstappen joked: “I’ll try to do a donut next time!
“No, I understand about safety, but I looked in my mirrors, took it all the way to right and took it easy. Everyone was on the left, and then I just did a burnout.
“OK, if it’s not allowed I won’t do it again, but at the time I thought it was really funny and safe, but of course I understand they don’t want to see this happening again, which is fine for me.”
Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, who had been lapped by the Red Bull, was the first to cross the line behind Verstappen and passed him on the right-hand side as he completed the burnout.
At the same circuit in 2015 while racing in Formula Renault 3.5, Latifi smashed into the rear of Roberto Merhi as the Spanish driver slowed as he crossed the line, which he later claimed was due to a suspension issue. The incident saw Latifi’s car fly into the air upside down and resulted in Merhi receiving a race ban.
Latifi said Verstappen’s celebration had been different to the incident in 2015, but agreed with Masi’s assessment of the situation.
“When I was coming to the finish line I saw Max pulling to the inside to celebrate with his team, like most drivers do,” Latifi said. “I just made sure to stay as far to the left as possible.
“In general, as a rule of thumb, I think that’s probably not the best thing to slow down that much. In that situation there were no cars behind racing and that was not the situation all those years ago in 2015, I was racing with another car quite close, and as a result I had one eye in the mirror and did not expect a car to be stopped on the grid in front of me.
“Obviously, it can end very badly, as we saw back in 2015, so it has to be a bit of compromise in that sense. Michael obviously thought it was dangerous, so I don’t think you will see many cars do that in the future, and it’s probably best not to slow down that much.”
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who famously celebrated what he expected to be his final race at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by completing donuts on the pit straight, said he believed the FIA should focus on other matters first.
“I like when you can be yourself and I think this burnout was nice to watch, even the donuts sometimes in Abu Dhabi, the fans like that,” he said. “You see a lot of videos of those moments on social media, so the fans they like that.
“The FIA should police more [things like] the track limits and Turn 1. I was the only one making a move into Turn 1 at the start and the two cars that I overtook missed Turn 1 and exited in front of me.
“There is no warning on that and there is for the burnout, so there are things that we can improve for the fans’ point of view.”