Max Verstappen shoved Esteban Ocon three times after he dramatically squared up to the driver who robbed him of a brilliant victory in Brazil.
Verstappen, 21, had been in complete control of the Interlagos race, following a fantastic performance in which he passed all four Mercedes and Ferrari cars, only to be taken out of the lead when Ocon, a lap down, dramatically crashed into his Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton picked up the 10th victory of his championship-winning campaign – completing a remarkable half-century of triumphs from his last 99 starts – but it was Verstappen’s crash with Ocon, and their jaw-dropping confrontation captured by television cameras, which took centre stage.
Verstappen was still seething with rage after the incident on lap 44. Ocon went wheel-to-wheel with the Red Bull driver at 220mph, before the Frenchman banged into the right-rear of Verstappen’s car through the Senna Esses, sending him into a race-losing spin.
“What a f****** idiot,” Verstappen fumed over the radio before he recovered to finish second.
“I don’t know what to say,” Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase said in the seconds after the flag had fallen.
“I know what to say,” Verstappen replied. “I hope I don’t find him in the paddock.” The rest of his message contained a series of bleeped-out expletives.
But just minutes later, Verstappen saw his nemesis as Ocon waited inside the FIA garage to be weighed. Then, for the first time in nearly 40 years, Formula One saw its first fight on camera.
Nelson Piquet punched and kicked Eliseo Salazar after they collided at the 1982 German Grand Prix.
Here, Verstappen, first with his left arm, shoved the 6ft 3in Ocon in the chest, before swinging out at the Frenchman’s arm, and then shoving him again.
Verstappen started to walk off before returning for a third push as FIA officials hastily intervened and restrained Ocon, five inches taller than Verstappen, from retaliating. Both drivers were hauled in front of the stewards for bringing the sport into disrepute.
Ocon, who was hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty during the race – the most severe punishment available to the stewards – called Verstappen a “lunatic” on French TV before standing by his move.
“With Max it did not work out,” he said. “That’s one thing. But what is worse is Max’s behaviour afterwards – being violent, pushing me, wanting to punch me. The FIA had to stop him.
“That is not a professional way of handling things. I would do the same again.”
Verstappen, his face still red with anger in the post-race press conference, said: “He (Ocon) has always been an idiot.
“I was trying to do my job, and then suddenly a backmarker is racing you and taking stupid risks.”
Verstappen had been on course for a second impressive win in as many races.
On lap three, the Dutchman launched a fine move down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at Turn One before producing the same pass on Sebastian Vettel a little over 60 seconds later.
Having started fifth, the Red Bull star was on a flyer, and it did not take him long to get the better of Valtteri Bottas, too, sailing past the Silver Arrows at the first corner.
Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to stop for fresh tyres as Verstappen took the lead.
Yet, despite failing to build up enough of a buffer to leapfrog Hamilton during his stop for tyres, Verstappen did his talking on the track, roaring past the newly crowned five-time world champion on the main straight with 31 laps to go.
It seemed to have capped a brilliant display, and that looked to be that only for Ocon’s moment of madness to turn the result on its head four laps later.
Hamilton picked up the pieces to triumph for a second time in Brazil, a decade on from the scene of his first title triumph.
Raikkonen finished third for Ferrari, his team-mate Vettel a lowly sixth, as Hamilton’s Mercedes team clinched their fifth consecutive constructors’ championship.