After the sprint race results the Mercedes driver knew he would have to fight to return on top of the championship, but Lewis Hamilton's Italian GP ended way earlier than planned, when on lap 25 Max Verstappen crashed into him at the first chicane.
Luckily, he wasn't feeling too bad, as he said after the race, when asked about the consequences of the accident: "Yes, a little bit stiff, my neck’s a bit – I took a bit of a whack on the head."
The British driver went on to explain the dynamics of the collision from his point of view:
"We were obviously just ahead, we had a bit of a slow stop, came out, braking into Turn 1 I made sure I left a car’s width on the outside and I was ahead going into the corner, and next thing I know, I guess Max went over the second kerb or something like that – he obviously knew he wasn’t going to make the corner – and he drove into me."
The championship leader received a three places drop penalty for Sochi as, per stewards' words, "he was predominantly to blame", agreeing with Hamilton's recount of the crash:
“So, next thing you know, he’s just on top of me. So, definitely unfortunate and we’ll speak to the stewards after this I’m sure.”
The World Champion wanted to resume his race, but the conditions of his car didn't allow him to:
“I wasn’t feeling great, but I was just hopeful to get the car going but the car was destroyed so it wouldn’t have made any difference anyways."
Verstappen at the time said on the team radio "That's what happens when you don't give space," recalling a disagreement that had happened earlier in the race. Hamilton agrees that the circumstances were similar, but added that the Red Bull driver should have backed before the incident:
“It’s exactly the same scenario that happened at Turn 4, where I went round the outside, I was exactly the same position, but I gave way – and that’s racing. He just didn’t want to give way today and he knew that when he was going into [Turn] 2, what was going to happen. He knew he was going over the kerb but he still did it… I don’t really know what else to say."
Hamilton was surprised by the fact that Verstappen didn't go check on him after the huge impact, since he had taken a big blow to his head:
"I did see Max get out and just walk by. I found that a little bit surprising, because ultimately I think when we go out, and when we do have incidents, the first thing we want is make sure if the guy that we crashed into or we collided with is okay."
"But the good thing is I was able to get out. It was a long walk back, but we live to fight another day. Thank God for the halo that ultimately I think saved me and saved my neck. I think in the actual moment, it was a big hit. But all I could think of is could I get going again," he concluded.