Max Verstappen has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the next Formula 1 race, the Russian Grand Prix, with the stewards determining that the Red Bull driver was predominantly to blame for a crash with Lewis Hamilton during the Italian Grand Prix.
Both Verstappen and Hamilton retired from the race after colliding at Turn 2. Hamilton exited the pits just ahead of the Dutchman. Verstappen then drew alongside Hamilton and attempted to overtake on the outside but bounced over the kerbs, which kicked his rear tyre into Hamilton’s, causing his RB16B to jump into the air before landing on the Mercedes.
Verstappen claimed Hamilton failed to give him room, but the stewards deemed that because the 23-year-old was never significantly alongside, he wasn’t entitled to space, whilst it was also noted that Hamilton drove an “avoiding line” but Verstappen failed to back out.
“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,” a statement from the stewards said.
“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.”
Verstappen will therefore start the Russian GP three places lower than he qualifies and was also handed two penalty points.