LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Red Bull Formula One driver Max Verstappen has jokingly suggested he could serve part of a community service punishment by attending the governing FIA’s prizegiving gala in Russia next month.
The 21-year-old Dutch driver, who was punished by the FIA for an angry post-race altercation with Frenchman Esteban Ocon in Brazil, finished fourth in the championship that ended in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The top three drivers must attend the annual awards ceremony, held this year in St. Petersburg on Dec. 7, even if those without trophies to collect would rather be somewhere else.
Verstappen would have beaten Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to third overall had he finished second in Sunday’s race rather than third and he joked afterwards that it had all been deliberately planned.
Asked by Mercedes’ five times world champion and race winner Lewis Hamilton whether he had secured third place, Verstappen grinned.
“Two points behind (Raikkonen) — but at least I don’t have to go to the Gala,” he said.
“Lucky you,” replied Hamilton, a regular at the ceremony with four titles in the last five years and as runner-up in 2016.
“We calculated that,” replied Verstappen. “I’m sorry. Unless I can do it as a community service day, and then I will go.
“I’ll do some PR stuff before? How great the whole venue is, I’ll do a special speech in the evening...”
Speaking to Sky Sports television later, and in response to a question about whether he might soon be emptying refuse bins, Verstappen said the community service would have to be ‘suitable’.
“I’m definitely not going to look silly because I think I am anyway already very harshly treated by that,” he said. “So we’ll find something suitable. Because I’m not going to look like an idiot.”
The FIA has yet to decide what it has in mind for the Dutchman, winner of two races this year and seen as a future champion. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by...)