The two drivers battling it out for the championship collided at Monza, taking them both out of the race.
After review, the stewards deemed Verstappen was predominantly to blame. Subsequently, the Dutchman receives a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Gran Prix. The stewards also handed Verstappen his first two penalty points in the current 12-month period on his licence.
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last that these two great drivers are wheel-to-wheel. We’ve seen it at Imola, Spain, and earlier in the Italian Grand Prix. On numerous occasions, Hamilton has taken avoiding action to prevent a crash. He did so earlier in the race where on the opening lap he was alongside Verstappen, but had to go wide off circuit to avoid contact with the Red Bull.
Mercedes And Red Bull Reaction
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff accused Max Verstappen of crashing into Lewis Hamilton on purpose in his interview with Sky Sports: “In football you call it a tactical foul. He [Verstappen] probably knew that if Lewis stays ahead that it is the race win possibly.”
Christian Horner had his say: “We are disappointed with the three-place grid penalty, but accept the stewards’ decision. We felt what happened between Max and Lewis was a genuine racing incident. The main thing today is that the halo ultimately did its job and certainly this isn’t the way we intended to finish the race.”
After the crash, Lewis Hamilton spoke to Sky Sports: “I’m a little bit stiff, bit sore in my neck as it landed on my head [Verstappen’s car], but I’ll be ok. I was racing as hard as I could, I finally got past Lando, I was in the lead… Max was coming; I made sure I left a car’s width on the outside for him. I went into turn one and was ahead, I was ahead going into turn two, then all of a sudden he was on top of me.”
When asked if Max should’ve taken avoiding action: “Absolutely, absolutely! Exactly the same scenario as what happened in turn four where I went around the outside. I was in exactly the same position but I gave way, and that’s racing. He just didn’t want to give way today. He knew that going into turn two what was going to happen. He knew he was going over the curb, but he still did it.”
Max Verstappen gave his verdict, tweeting:
Today was very unfortunate. The incident could have been avoided if I had been left enough space to make the corner. You need 2 people to make that work and I feel I was squeezed out of it. When racing each other, these things can happen, unfortunately #ItalianGP 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/9xOmnqAtd8
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 12, 2021