Verstappen penalised for Hamilton clash

The Verstappen and Hamilton clash. Picture: Fox Sports

Max Verstappen has been handed a three-place grid drop for his part in the crash which eliminated he and Lewis Hamilton from the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix.

The two title protagonists came together midway through the race, the Red Bull parked atop the Mercedes following wheel-to-wheel contact.

Having reviewed the clash, officials in Monza ruled that Verstappen was predominantly to blame for the incident and handed him a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix.

“The Stewards observed that Car 33 was not at all alongside Car 44 until significantly into the entry into Turn 1,” the ruling states.

“In the opinion of the Stewards, this manoeuvre was attempted too late for the driver of Car 33 to have ‘the right to racing room’.

“While Car 44 could have steered further from the kerb to avoid the incident, the Stewards determined that his position was reasonable and therefore find that the driver of Car 33 was predominantly to blame for the incident.”

Ironically, Red Bull was already expected to take a power unit penalty when the circus reaches Sochi next time out.

Drivers are allowed three over the course of the season, with Verstappen effectively down a unit following his hefty crash at the British Grand Prix.

A penalty for a new power unit it therefore inevitable somewhere, with Russia now increasingly likely to be where Red Bull opts to take that medicine.

Verstappen holds a five point advantage in the drivers’ championship following the Italian Grand Prix, increasing his margin slightly courtesy of finishing second in Sprint Qualifying on Saturday.

The Russian Grand Prix runs across the September 24-26 weekend.

Stewards’ decision in full

The Stewards heard from the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen), the driver of car 44 (Lewis Hamilton) and team representatives, reviewed the video evidence and determined that the driver of Car 33 was predominantly to blame for the collision with Car 44 at Turn 2.

Car 44 was exiting the pits. Car 33 was on the main straight. At the 50m board before Turn 1, Car 44 was significantly ahead of Car 33. Car 33 braked late and started to move alongside Car 44, although at no point in the sequence does Car 33 get any further forward than just behind the front wheel of Car 44.

During the hearing the driver of Car 33 asserted that the cause of the incident was the driver of Car 44 opening the steering after Turn 1 and “squeezing” him to the apex of turn 2. The driver of Car 44 asserted that the driver of Car 33 attempted to pass very late and should have given up the corner either by backing off sooner, or by turning left behind the kerb.

The Stewards observed on CCTV footage that the driver of Car 44 was driving an avoiding line, although his position caused Car 33 to go onto the kerb. But further, the Stewards observed that Car 33 was not at all alongside Car 44 until significantly into the entry into Turn 1. In the opinion of the Stewards, this manoeuvre was attempted too late for the driver of Car 33 to have “the right to racing room”. While Car 44 could have steered further from the kerb to avoid the incident, the Stewards determined that his position was reasonable and therefore find that the driver of Car 33 was predominantly to blame for the incident.

In coming to the penalty the Stewards emphasise that they have only considered the incident itself and not the consequences thereof.

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