Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was handed a three-place grid penalty for the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi (September 26) after the stewards judged he was to blame for causing a collision with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at Monza on Sunday.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo won the Italian Grand Prix for McLaren, their first victory in nine years, as title contenders Hamilton and Verstappen crashed out on lap 26 of the 53-lap race.
As Hamilton exited the pits after his first stop, Verstappen was running down the main straight — having lost a lot of ground because of a slow pit stop — and they were side by side heading down to the first corner.
Verstappen hung his Red Bull around the outside after braking late, but was never fully alongside. As they went through the corner, the two collided, lifting Verstappen into the air and onto Hamilton’s Mercedes, with both ending up stuck in the gravel and out of the race.
And after several hours of deliberating, it was deemed Verstappen was at fault as his pass was ‘attempted too late for him to have the right to racing room’, and he was handed a three-place grid penalty plus two penalty points, the first on his licence in this 12-month period, according to formula1.com.
“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,” said the stewards in a statement.
“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 emphasised that they have only considered the incident itself and not the consequences thereof, which could have resulted in serious injuries to either or both of the drivers.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he felt the crash was the result of a racing incident, but added that the team would not seek to appeal the verdict. “We are disappointed with the three place grid penalty, but accept the stewards’ decision,” he told formula1.com.