As if the collision between Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton at last year’s British Grand Prix was not dramatic enough, another controversial comment has been unearthed, with a Mercedes staff member suggesting that the incident was necessary for him to learn.
Verstappen had just taken his eighth career pole position in Silverstone by virtue of winning the sprint qualifying event the day before, and he and the 37-year-old spent much of the first lap battling for supremacy.
When they reached Copse, neither of them were willing to yield, and both were determined to come out ahead, but as the Briton understeered through the turn and the 24-year-old refused to back out on the outside the pair gravitated towards each other leading to the inevitable crash that had been threatening for several races.
It sent the Dutchman into the wall in a 51G crash and, following the seven-time champion’s celebrations upon eventually winning the race, Verstappen accused his rivals of disrespect.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff pinned the blame on the Red Bull driver.
“They were side by side and he didn’t give him room. Lewis was not there to bail out,” he said on season four of Drive to Survive.
Another member of the Brackley squad supported this notion, insinuating that Verstappen needed to learn that not everybody would be willing to cede to him.
“It is exactly the right lesson for Max to learn, otherwise everyone always backs out for him,” they were heard saying.
Five months later, the Dutchman claimed his maiden world championship in dramatic fashion on the final lap of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, and he has been rewarded with a contract that is reportedly worth $250 million until 2028.
Nobody at Red Bull has gone into the details of exactly how much money is involved, but team principal Christian Horner is ecstatic to have the 24-year-old around for the next seven seasons of racing, particularly when they start making their own powertrains in 2026.
“To have Max signed with Red Bull through to the end of 2028 is a real statement of intent,” he said.
“Our immediate focus is on retaining Max’s world championship title, but this deal also shows he is part of the team’s long-term planning.
“With the Red Bull Powertrains division working towards the new engine regulations for 2026 we wanted to make sure we had the best driver on the grid secured for that car.”
Verstappen will continue to line up alongside Sergio Perez this year, with the Mexican himself out of contract at the end of the season.