Max Verstappen has received a three-place grid penalty for Formula 1’s next race for his role in the collision with Lewis Hamilton in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Verstappen clashed with his F1 title rival halfway through the race as they went side by side through the Rettifilo chicane – with Verstappen trying to go around the outside of Hamilton in the initial right-hander, then running out of track and bouncing over the kerb inside the second part, which ultimately led to his Red Bull being mounted on Hamilton’s Mercedes in the run-off.
The two drivers blamed each other for the collision, but Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner viewed it as a racing incident – while Mercedes driver Toto Wolff withheld his full judgment, instead saying that it was important to wait for the stewards’ verdict, but accusing Verstappen of a “tactical foul”.
That stewards’ verdict has now come, with Verstappen determined to be “predominantly to blame” for the clash.
The verdict read: “Car 44 [Hamilton] was exiting the pits. Car 33 [Verstappen] 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 is set to serve the penalty in Russia, and it could potentially influence Red Bull’s engine strategy, given the Dutchman is still likely due for an engine change grid drop at some point before the end of the season.
News of the penalty was announced just as Hamilton was finishing his post-race media session.
“I’m proud of the stewards,” Hamilton responded. “I need some time to reflect on it but it definitely sets a precedent and I think it’s important for us moving forward for the safety of the drivers that there are rules in place.”
Red Bull’s only comment on the decision so far has come in its post-race press release, in which Verstappen was quoted as saying “I don’t fully agree with the penalty as I believe it was a racing incident”.
Team principal Christian Horner added: “We are disappointed with the three place grid penalty, but accept the stewards’ decision.
“We felt what happened between Max and Lewis was a genuine racing incident.
“You can argue for both sides but ultimately it’s frustrating and disappointing to see both cars out of the race in what is proving to be an exciting championship.”