Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says Red Bull are blaming Lewis Hamilton for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix crash to protect Max Verstappen.
Hamilton and Verstappen were involved in a serious accident at the Variante del Rettifilo in Monza. The British driver left the pit-lane on lap 26 of 52 and met Verstappen – who had dropped further back following a slow 11.1 second pit-stop.
The pair headed into Turn 1 side by side before Verstappen drove over the raised kerb on Turn 2, causing his car to fly into the air and land on top of Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton (left) and Max Verstappen (right) were involved in a serious accident at the Variante del Rettifilo in Monza on Sunday afternoon
The Brit left the pit-lane on lap 26 and met Verstappen. They headed into Turn 1 side-by-side before Verstappen drove over the kerb – causing his car to fly into the air and land on Hamilton
The rear of the Red Bull car even rolled over the top of Hamilton’s helmet – with the seven-time world champion crediting the halo safety cage on his car for saving his life.
Verstappen was subsequently given a three-place grid penalty and two penalty points. However, Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko and Red Bull’s team Principal Christian Horner felt that Lewis was to blame.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Shovlin has responded to such claims by saying Red Bull ‘know’ that Verstappen was in the wrong for the incident.
‘We believe that Lewis did nothing wrong and that Max was mostly the one who made the mistake,’ said Shovlin to De Telegraaf.
The rear of the Red Bull car brushed over the top of Hamilton’s helmet – with the seven-time world champion crediting his halo for saving his life (above)
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin (left) says Red Bull are blaming Hamilton for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix crash to protect Verstappen
‘Max would never have made it into that corner, but it seems he always prefers to force an incident rather than relinquish his position in relation to Lewis. It’s a relief that Lewis was protected by the halo, otherwise it could have been worse.
‘You see Helmut and Christian weren’t trying to blame Lewis. It kind of feels like they know Max was wrong as they will try at every opportunity to point out Lewis as the culprit.
Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shared his thoughts straight after the incident – saying Verstappen had made a ‘tactical foul’ when he collided with Hamilton.
Wolff told Sky Sports following the crash: ‘The stewards will decide who is to blame. In football you would call it a tactical foul. He knew that if Lewis stays ahead, then that is the race win.
Shovlin says ‘that Lewis did nothing wrong and that Max was the one who made the mistake’
He also claims that Red Bull know that Verstappen (above) is in the ‘wrong’ for the incident
‘I don’t want to be a punter like some of my colleagues like to be. When you look at Turn 4 earlier in the race, [Lewis] backed out of it, but it was clear for Max [before the incident] it would end up in a crash. I’m sure the stewards will look at this properly but incidents like this will continue.
‘Maybe it will have to be another high speed crash and end up with someone on top of someone’s head again [for things to change].’
However, on the other hand, Red Bull boss Christian Horner felt that Verstappen had ‘earned the right to be given more space to work with’.
He said: ‘Max had the momentum and Lewis gave him enough space in turn one but our opinion would be that he didn’t give him enough in turn two.
‘Most important thing today is that the halo has done its job because it’s an awkward accident, thank God no one was hurt.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff (left) believes Verstappen made a ‘tactical foul’
They survived but Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty and two penalty points
‘I think Max had earned the right to be given more space to work with in turn two but I think you could look at this as a racing incident.
‘To portion blame to one side or the other, I think for this incident in particular that’s very difficult to do.
‘We had a human error in the pit stop – unfortunately I think it was on the front right, the wheel was done but unfortunately the car wasn’t released. I don’t think the slow (pit) stop affected his judgement at all.’
Fernando Alonso also weighed in – saying the Monza crash was ‘not a big deal’ and that it was an ‘unfortunate’ racing incident.
He also said that crash did not compare to the extremity of their British Grand Prix clash.
Alpine F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso (above) also weighed in – saying the Monza crash was ‘not a big deal’ and that it was an ‘unfortunate’ racing incident
Alonso said: ‘Well they are there, the two champions, and they are always fighting to the limit.
‘It looks like an unfortunate position, with the corner and the kerb the car jumps a little, and then they touch. Tyre with tyre, and the rubber makes a car fly.
‘But it is low speed, you know, they go at 30 or 40 km/h, there is no danger, there is nothing.
‘So I don’t think it was a big deal. At Silverstone it probably was, but this one it was just a racing incident.
‘I think Lewis tried to open up at Turn 1 to force Max to cut the corner. Max did not cut the corner, he stayed on the outside, but then it was not possible to do Turn 2 on the inside.
Hamilton (above) controversially went on to win the race at Silverstone after the crash
‘I think they both… they both did what they had to do.
‘You know, and unfortunately, they touched, because… I saw the replay of the start too, and (Antonio) Giovinazzi and (Charles) Leclerc, they touched, in the same way, and (Lance) Stroll and (Sergio) Perez touched each other in the same way in turn 1 and 2.
‘But they did not touch wheel to wheel, but tyre to tyre. So the same did not happen. But it is a very typical manoeuvre [in] Turn 1, Turn 2, and they have been unlucky [to] touch wheel to wheel.’