Max Verstappen likened his collision with Sebastian Vettel during the early stages of the Japanese Grand Prix to a similar incident in China, adding Vettel “could have been more careful”.

The pair collided following an early Safety Car period when Vettel attempted a divebomb move for third place into the fast, sweeping left-hander at Spoon, only to slam into the side of Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Vettel spun to the rear of the field before recovering to finish a distant sixth as his title hopes suffered another blow, while Verstappen claimed a podium finish in third.

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The Ferrari driver was adamant Verstappen was fully to blame for the incident after failing to provide him with enough space, but the Dutchman felt the move was overly-ambitious.

“He tried to overtake me in a corner where you shouldn’t overtake,” Verstappen said. “I even have him space but he understeered into my car and we went off the track,”

The incident was reviewed by the Suzuka race stewards but they ultimately decided to take no further action, concluding the collision was a racing incident.

When asked if he felt Vettel deserved a penalty, Verstappen replied: “I’m not the one who makes the rules. I think if I was, a lot of penalties would have been avoided anyway in Formula 1.

“I think it’s a similar scenario to what I had in China with him. Of course we didn’t spin off the track, but he drove into the side of my car. I think he could have been a bit more careful.”

Verstappen had already been handed a five-second time penalty for forcing Kimi Raikkonen off track having ran deep into the final chicane at the end of the opening lap.

The clash allowed Vettel to take advantage as he swept around the outside of Raikkonen as the Finn lost momentum. Verstappen believes the decision to penalise him was “stupid”.

“The first one I totally do not agree with, with that penalty,” he added. “I locked up, I could have easily cut the track but I made my best efforts to get back onto the track.

“He then chose to drive around the outside, which he could also have easily just waited for me to steer a bit wide.

“I don’t really understand why I got a five-second penalty for that. I really think that’s stupid.”

Verstappen put in a late charge to challenge Valtteri Bottas’ for second place, though the Mercedes driver ultimately pulled clear to seal the posiiton following a wide moment at the final chicane.

The decision not to penalise Bottas prompted Verstappen to add: “I’ll just cut the track and floor it next time like Valtteri because he didn’t get a penalty.”

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