The dust has not yet settled on the Monza circuit a day after the crash between title candidates Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. It is clear to Formula 1 commentator Sam Dejonghe who was to blame: Max Verstappen. “He had the choice to abort that maneuver,” he says.
The winner in the Monza Grand Prix did not come from the Red Bull stable, nor from Mercedes. Still, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were the most discussed after the race. Cause? The spectacular crash.
“It was actually immediately clear to me that the majority of the blame lies with Verstappen, not to say all the blame,” says Dejonghe. “He is driving behind Hamilton at that moment, even if he is coming from pitlane, so he is the one who initiates the maneuver. He had the choice to place the maneuver or to stop it. I don’t think there was room for it and he did it anyway. That led to the crash.”
Verstappen does not agree with that reading of the facts. But is he also a bit against appearances because of his fiercer way of racing? “Everyone knows him like that and that makes him an excellent driver. He creates tension in Formula 1.”
“Even now, the first part of the maneuver was actually good, but it went wrong in part two. I think he already knew that it wouldn’t work. In his body language afterwards and also in the Red Bull press release you notice that they are not really being aggressive and that may also say something about guilt.”
The penalty for Verstappen? “No two measures and two weights”
Verstappen was also penalized for his part in the crash: three places back on the grid. “People think that there are two measures and two weights, but that is not the case. The previous major incident was at Silverstone. Hamilton tapped Verstappen there and he received “only” 10 seconds penalty time.”
“But then Hamilton was still in the race and then you immediately get a penalty. That was not possible now. And that is difficult for many people to understand.”
“It’s an incredible coincidence that this happened. Red Bull did a failed pit stop and Mercedes did too. And yet they end up on track together. The universe wanted it exactly that way. In itself that is the slowest corner of the circuit, but things can go wrong there too.”
Hamilton may thank the halo after the incident. “The cars are light, but it still weighs something. The halo prevented that car from sliding any further over Hamilton’s car. The wheel could not hit Hamilton’s cockpit.”
It is an incredible coincidence that this happened. The universe has willed it that way.
“I give it to Red Bull, but I think Mercedes is smarter and calmer”
Verstappen just walked away after the crash and didn’t look back at Hamilton. “A lot of people take that seriously and that is why there is a lot of criticism of Verstappen. The battle for the World Cup title is always getting tougher. Not only on the track, but also off it. Psychological games are being played.”
“So I think Max did that on purpose. He was also frustrated with himself, and he doesn’t want to admit an inch. You can understand that somewhere, but it’s not classy. Hamilton is a bit older and wiser. He can do that sharp struggle and that mutual respect better combine.”
“Before it became clear that the battle would be so exciting this year, they were always respectful. They recognize talent in each other.”
Who will make it this year? “That is very difficult. I give it to Red Bull. That would also be good for the sport, but I think Mercedes is smarter and calmer.”