Verstappen has received a three-place grid drop at the Russian GP for the crash in the middle of Monza’s opening chicane that took both of this season’s World Championship rivals out of the latest race. The Dutchman was found to be “predominantly to blame” after the cars made contact when he tried to overtake Hamilton, ending up in the gravel with the Red Bull partly wedged on top of the Mercedes.
Both drivers defended their position, with Verstappen saying Hamilton had “run me out of road” while the seven-time World Champion accused his rival of “knowing what would happen” when he made the move. Hamilton also said his life had been saved by the protective Halo and that he was “grateful to still be here” as a tyre on the Red Bull car made contact with his crash helmet.
The incident ended with Verstappen remaining five points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings and a maximum of eight races remaining. Team principal Horner, writing in his latest column on the Red Bull website, thought the stewards could have made a “statement” by punishing both drivers in the hope of preventing further crashes between them this season, the first of which had occurred during the British Grand Prix when Hamilton received a 10-second time penalty.
Hamilton and Verstappen collide at Turn 2!
They are both out of the race #ItalianGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/6uuh7NhfZ4
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2021
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“Both drivers knew they needed to be ahead because of the difficulty to overtake. Max was keen to seize the momentum and Lewis was eager to retain track position,” wrote Horner. “It was an awkward shunt, but both drivers were instantly able to confirm they were okay. “With Lewis trying to reverse and get back in the race, even the medical car didn’t see the need to deploy. I’m grateful the Halo did its job. I think even the most vocal of doubters have now changed their mind about it.
“I still share the same belief today – both played a part in it and it is difficult to apportion blame to one side more than the other. “If the FIA wanted to make a statement, they could have imposed the same penalty on both drivers – but the fault was deemed to be more on Max’s side and, because he didn’t finish the race, the only option was to give him a grid penalty, which we accept.”