Verstappen brands Hamilton “disrespectful” and “unsportsmanlike”
They’d raced hard but just the right side of fair, as they have all year, but Hamilton and Verstappen tipped over the edge on that fraught opening lap at Copse Corner. What an exchange it had been between the pair as Verstappen only just converted his pole position into a lead in the opening seconds, then held off a concerted attack from Hamilton down the Wellington straight and into Brooklands as the Mercedes man gave it everything to hit the front. His race strategy counted on him doing so – it was all on the line.
Out of Luffield, Hamilton had the momentum and that sucked him into a move he couldn’t resist into one of the world’s great fast corners. Had the roles been reversed you can guarantee Max would have gone for it too, whatever a furious Christian Horner might claim about such moves being off-limits at Copse. Hamilton’s black car wasn’t as tight to the kerb as it could have been, but then Verstappen pinched his rival on turn-in too. In essence, here were two magnificent racing drivers in the fight of their lives and neither was ever going to back down. Thus Hamilton’s left front connected with Verstappen’s right rear.
Red Bull claimed the violent impact was 51G and it was with huge relief that a shaken Verstappen was seen walking into an ambulance. Yes, it could have been much worse. But was this really an example of “dirty driving” as Horner claimed? Should he really be facing a race ban as the always volatile Helmut Marko judged? Wasn’t this simply a racing accident between two hard-heads – or was Hamilton’s subsequent 10-second penalty a balanced punishment for a crash Lewis could have avoided by backing out? You’ll have your own view. For what it’s worth, we reckon the stewards – which included five-time Le Mans winner and Goodwood Revival favourite Emanuele Pirro – probably called it right.
What happens next and over the course of the rest of this season is entirely down to the drivers and teams either raising hostilities to all-out war – or choosing to take the heat out of the situation for the safety of everyone. Verstappen claimed on social media on Sunday night that Hamilton’s victory celebrations were “disrespectful” and “unsportsmanlike”. It’s not an exaggeration to say this battle is delicately and even dangerously poised.