After his collision with Lewis Hamilton in today’s Italian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen has been handed a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix.
The two championship protagonists who had already tangled during July’s British Grand Prix, which sent Verstappen careering into the barrier at Copse corner, crashed again on Lap 26, with the incident taking place after Hamilton’s first scheduled pitstop.
As Hamilton was exiting the pitlane to rejoin the track, Verstappen got alongside Hamilton and attacked into the Lesmo corner, but as the Dutchman tried to get past the Brit on the inside, Verstappen was launched over the kerbs, causing him to touch Hamilton’s left rear tyre and sending the championship leader flying over the top of the Mercedes’s halo, putting both into the gravel trap and out of the race.
The pair who then subsequently blamed each other for the incident were immediately put under investigation by the stewards, and after they both had argued their cases, the stewards blamed Verstappen and gave him a grid drop for the next round in Sochi, which will take place in a fortnight.
“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.”
"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."
“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 consequence thereof.”