It seems somewhat fitting that on the weekend where Mercedes had the fastest car on the grid, Max Verstappen’s rivalry with Lewis Hamilton reignited, with a collision between the two at the Brazilian Grand Prix reminding fans of 2021.
Red Bull and Ferrari had no answer to Mercedes at Interlagos, as George Russell cruised to his first victory in Formula 1 and the Germans first of 2022.
Hamilton remarkably recovered from outside the top five to claim second, marking Mercedes’ first one-two since the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The seven-time World Champion would’ve arguably been a real contender for victory had himself and Verstappen not collided on Lap Seven at Turn Two, following a Safety Car restart.
Verstappen attempted to go around the outside of the 37-year-old at the opening corner, which therefore became the inside for Turn Two.
However, Hamilton remained slightly ahead of the Dutchman so took the racing line, which resulted in contact after Verstappen decided to remain on the inside.
Hamilton suffered minor floor damage as a result, whilst Verstappen broke his front-wing.
The FIA awarded the 25-year-old a five-second time penalty following the collision, after deeming the Red Bull driver to be “predominantly” to blame.
Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle was surprised to see Verstappen awarded a penalty, after believing that the driver was “entitled to some racing room”.
“Russell wisely left it very late before nailing the throttle on the restart, so as not to gift a healthy slipstream,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“Behind, the two Red Bulls were catching Hamilton, and Max initially seemed to be defending the inside against his team-mate before suddenly deciding to attack Hamilton around the outside.
“Partly ahead, and then partly behind, but having the inside line for Turn 2 – as the agreement between drivers and Race Control has been carefully explained to me by a key driver – being that far alongside Lewis and on the inside, Max was entitled to some racing room.
“I have no doubt Max has a different set of limits when in combat with Lewis, and Lewis has similarly decided to fight fire with fire. And so inevitably they hit but continued.
“The stewards said Lewis could have given ‘a little more space’, and in my view Max could have taken even more kerb or indeed lifted off the throttle, but that’s not racing. The stewards decided it was predominantly Max’s fault and he got a five-second penalty and a pit-stop for a new nose.
“I thought it was a racing incident. Lewis’ car was a bit scruffy but all the fast bits were intact, and he set off in spectacular recovery mode.”