A flippant comment from Formula One ace Max Verstappen after the US Grand Prix has left rival team Ferrari furious, with the Red Bull driver accusing the Italian team of cheating.
The FIA issued a technical directive clarifying a section of the rules about a potentially illegal fuel-flow after questions from Red Bull in the lead-up to the race.
Red Bull’s technical advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, made it abundantly clear their queries were looking to explain Ferrari’s distinct advantage in straight-line speed.
'JUST NOT CORRECT': Max Verstappen blasts 'disrespectful' Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari struggled at the US grand prix, despite Sebastian Vettel finishing 12 thousandths of a second shy of pole position.
Valtteri Bottas won the race from pole, while Lewis Hamilton’s second place finish also secured his sixth World Driver’s Championship victory.
Verstappen kicked off the controversy after the race, saying it was ‘not strange’ Ferrari had struggled for large parts of the race weekend because ‘that’s what happens when you get caught cheating’.
The Italian manufacturer was plagued by engine issues in free practice, and were well off the pace in the race itself. Suspension failure ended Vettel’s race prematurely, while teammate Charles LeClerc finished nearly a minute off the pace, in fifth.
Predictably, Ferrari were less than impressed with Verstappen’s post-race commentary, with both team principal Matteo Binotto and LeClerc hitting back after the race.
"If we look at the race today, we may comment later on, but certainly the speed on the straights was not our issue, while we've got clear problems on the grip on the car first stint both drivers,” Binotto said.
"Again, it's the type of comments I feel are completely wrong. It's not good for the sport and I think everybody should be a bit more cautious."
LeClerc was less conciliatory towards his rival when asked about it, openly declaring Verstappen had ‘no clue’ what he was talking about.
"I think it's a joke to be completely honest. He has no clue," Leclerc said.
"He's not in the team. So we know exactly what we are doing and I don't know why he's speaking, he doesn't know anything about us."