Victory Burnouts Will 'Not Be Tolerated’ in F1, Apparently

Formula One is a very serious sport. I mean that genuinely—it’s a multibillion-dollar, impossible speed competition that’s actually got a really good title fight happening this year. Sometimes, though, it could probably be accused of taking itself just a little bit too seriously. 

This weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix was a bumper edition of things you definitely should not do, like being too quick at pit stops, something you might have thought was kind of part of the sport. Minimum human reaction times aside, however, the latest act to incur race controls ire was Max Verstappen winning the Styrian Grand Prix and stopping to have a little celebration with his team on the pit wall.

Grand Prix winners are allowed to commit a formally worded “act of celebration” on track after they finish the race and before they take their car to Parc Fermé for inspection. That’s usually something like a victory lap or, in truly exceptional circumstances, a few donuts. 

They still have to make sure their car has enough fuel left for a fuel sample, is in a safe condition by the time it comes back to the pits, and that they don’t endanger any other drivers or officials in the process. 

Max Verstappen passed the checkered flag after leading every lap of the Styrian Grand Prix with more than a 30-second gap to Lewis Hamilton behind him after the Mercedes had pitted for fresh tires to go for fastest lap. That gave him plenty of license to slow down, drive up to his Red Bull team on the pit wall, and do a gentle burnout wiggle to get away again, well off the racing line. It was exactly the kind of thing drivers do to lay down some rubber in their pit boxes on the formation lap.

Drivers used to do them all the time, including weaving wildly on the formation lap to build up tire and engine temperatures for the start. However, since the introduction of high-degradation tires and rules that say you can’t change your entire power unit after every session, like in the V12 days, they’ve become much less popular as an on-track activity.

F1 race director Michael Masi, however, wasn’t having it. He apparently contacted Red Bull immediately to lay down the law and let the team know that, although Verstappen had got away with it this race, he wouldn’t be allowed to do anything that fun in the future. 

There is, in all fairness, a legitimate safety concern. Back in 2015, Formula Renault 3.5 winner Roberto Merhi did basically the same thing, slowing his car on track to a near-stop by his team’s pit wall. Nicholas Latifi behind him wasn’t expecting it and the two collided violently, Latifi flung across the pit straight.

Obviously, that’s not the kind of thing anyone wants to see happening during a win celebration, so Masi had to tell Verstappen off by saying, “It was not an ideal situation, which is why I spoke to the team immediately and told them accordingly that something that would not be tolerated in future.”

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