The scene in slow motion: Hamilton comes out of the box and is attacked by Verstappen on the flank. The World Cup rivals drive side by side through the first right-left corner, Hamilton leaves Verstappen no place. The Red Bull, on the other hand, is levered out on the sausage notch, the driven rear wheels touch each other: Verstappen climbs up and remains jacked up on Hamilton’s halo bar. Both are stranded in the gravel.
Emotions in the main actors? Nothing! “I was in front, suddenly there was a crash. That’s racing, ”says Hamilton. “Max didn’t want to leave any space. He knew what was going to happen, but he stayed there anyway. “
Verstappen’s point of view is similar – only the other way around. “He gave me little space on the outside,” said the Dutchman. “I was next to him in the curve, he didn’t leave enough space. Both have to play along to get through the curve, he didn’t do that. “
The relatively cool allegations could show that it was a racing accident. At least that’s what Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko thinks: “I see the situation as a racing accident. Max was inside and was pushed through the curbs onto the car of Hamilton, who left no space. ”The Austrian also notices the parallels to Senna and Prost, but admits:“ Back then it was intentional, today it is not intentional. You cannot plan that both will be eliminated. “
Mercedes sports director Toto Wolff sees it differently. He believes that Verstappen consciously accepted the crash. “We have to be careful that no tactical fouls happen,” he says at Sky. “If you know the other person is in front of you and wins the race, you try the crowbar. It’s difficult for the stewards to come to a result. ”Background: For Red Bull, a joint failure of the World Cup rivals on a Mercedes track is more valuable than a Hamilton overtaking him and chasing victory.
At the ORF, Wolff gets really angry: “If I had been in the car, I would have finished it in turn four and not opened it.” Background: In the first lap, the two Mercedes and Red Bull stars went up here. Then Verstappen forced Hamilton to rumble through the Ascari chicane on the inside lane.
But Wolff admits: “Nothing is clear in life. Here I would say that Max played a bigger part in the crash – just like the stewards rated it against Lewis at Silverstone. ”In the end, this is also what the race stewards in Monza decide, with Verstappen humming three penalties at the start of the next race in Russia.
This is one of the reasons why the Viennese sees something positive about the mega-duel with a crash guarantee, at least for the spectators: “We experience the fight between two top drivers,” he says. “I think it’s great that we can be contemporary witnesses. They owe nothing to themselves. That is fun.”
Meanwhile, the two teams also seem to be at their limit. Because the crash only happened because both Red Bull and Mercedes had problems with the pit stop. “The manual release according to the new rules didn’t work,” explains Wolff. “That mustn’t happen.” For once, he agrees with Helmut Marko. The Grazer says: “It’s our fault that Max had to defend against Lewis in the first place.”
Good for the fans: The duel should go into the next round at the next race in Russia. Marko: “In principle, Sotchi is also Mercedes-Land. But we’re much closer to every race track than last year. That will be tight again. ”