Both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton got off lightly at the Italian Grand Prix — Lewis was lucky to leave Monza with his head attached to his shoulders, while Max should have been given a stronger wrap on the knuckles than a three-place grid penalty for the next race.
Hamilton left the Red Bull all the room through the Rettifilo chicane that fairness required. Verstappen, the championship leader, went from behind for a gap that wasn’t there, mounted the Mercedes, let his rear wheels spin dangerously, and left his Red Bull beached in the air atop Hamilton’s halo without even checking the Englishman was okay. It was a shocking display of careless driving and poor sportsmanship.
Given the way Verstappen cried foul when he had to take a trip to hospital after Silverstone — and criticised Hamilton’s victory celebration — it is interesting to note how little care the young Dutchman seemed to have for Hamilton’s wellbeing in Italy.
‘I did see Max just get out and walk by. I found that a little bit surprising,’ said Hamilton, who complained subsequently of neck pain.
‘Ultimately, the first thing we want is to make sure the guy we collided with is okay. But the good thing was I was able to get out. It was a long walk back [to the paddock] but we live to fight another day. Thank God for the halo. I think [it] saved me.’
When asked why he did not check on Hamilton, Verstappen replied: ‘No, Lewis was fine. He was still trying to reverse when I was already out of the car, so when you’re not fine, you are not doing that.’
Verstappen, now five points ahead of the Briton in the championship after collecting two points for coming second to Valtteri Bottas in Saturday’s sprint race, disagreed with the stewards’ verdict, saying the accident was Hamilton’s fault.
‘He realised I was going for [the overtake] so he just kept squeezing me,’ he said. ‘I didn’t expect him to keep squeezing because he didn’t even need to. He just pushed me onto the sausage kerb. That’s why we touched.’
Both here and at Silverstone, one senses Verstappen feels entitled to the lead out of every corner whether he is ahead going into it or not. He thinks he’s entitled to the whole track width.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner and consultant Helmut Marko both saw it as a straightforward racing incident.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says that this is telling.
‘We obviously felt strongly Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong, and that Max was predominantly to blame,’ said Shovlin. ‘If you look at the fact that even Helmut and Christian weren’t trying to blame Lewis, it sort of feels like they know Max is in the wrong, because they will try and blame Lewis at any opportunity.’
For his part, Hamilton was satisfied with the penalty handed to his rival.
‘I’m proud of the stewards,’ said the world champion. ‘I need some time to really reflect on it but I think it definitely sets a precedent. There is a known rule that the driver who is ahead, it’s his corner, and eventually a driver has to concede.’
Norris hails McLaren’s breakthrough
WITH both championship contenders out of the grand prix on lap 25, it was left to Daniel Ricciardo to lead McLaren to their first one-two victory since Canada 2010 — 220 races ago.
Even without the Max-Lewis contretemps, Ricciardo looked like the man to beat throughout. It is the Australian’s first win since Monaco 2018, and the first of a tough debut season with McLaren. Second is the best result for Lando Norris so far. After his fourth podium of the year, the 21-year-old Bristolian said: ‘I’m happy for Daniel and the whole team because it’s a pretty awesome achievement for all of us.
‘I’ve been part of McLaren for a bit longer, so to be on this little journey we’ve been on together already and to go from one podium a few years ago to a few more this season, and now a one-two. There was no luck with it, which makes it a bit sweeter because it’s just deserved.’
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