Former Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill has accused Max Verstappen of intentionally taking Lewis Hamilton out, after realising he could potentially lose his points advantage as he looked set to finish behind his title rival.
Hamilton emerged from the pits ahead of Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver drew alongside into Turn 1 before taking a chance on the outside. Verstappen committed to the move despite the gap quickly closing and had to run over the orange ‘sausage’ kerbs, which launched his car into Hamilton’s and he came to a stop on top of the Mercedes.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called the incident a “tactical foul” and Hill concurred, suggesting it could have been done purposefully to protect his slim points lead.
“I have to say, looking at the replay of Max on Lewis at Turn 1, there was no way he was going to make that work,” the 1996 champion told Sky F1.
“He had to take evasive action, as Lewis did in the second chicane to avoid an accident, so the only conclusion is he might have been thinking ‘I have to take him out’.
“Now I don’t want to think that of any driver, but I think it was either an error of judgement or a calculated move to collide with Lewis.
“Which is strong, strong stuff, and I don’t like the idea that I’m accusing anyone of doing that, but he’s got a points advantage and this was a race which Mercedes was supposed to win.”
Verstappen himself admitted he “didn’t want to take the easy route” in backing out of the move. He leaves Monza in an improved championship position after scoring two points in Saturday’s Sprint event, whereas Hamilton leaves points-less.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner described the crash as a “racing incident” with both parties to blame equally.
“I think you can probably argue it from both sides,” he said. “I think if you take a middle ground on it you would say it’s a racing incident, but I genuinely think you could argue Max should have bailed a bit more to the left, you can argue Lewis should have given him more space.”