Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix had a sense of 2021 about it, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen dramatically colliding at Interlagos for the second consecutive season; however, this time the FIA didn’t judge it as a racing incident.
In 2021, Verstappen forced Hamilton off the circuit at Turn Four whilst the duo fought for the lead, an incident that the governing body decided to do nothing about.
Fast forward 12 months and the pair were at it again, this time at Turn Two.
Following a Safety Car restart on Lap Seven, Verstappen reacted to the restart better than Hamilton and had a great run on the seven-time World Champion going into the opening corner.
The fight was for second place, with George Russell leading the field.
Verstappen swept to the outside of Hamilton and did get some of his car ahead; however, as they swept down the hill for the second corner, Hamilton’s W13 moved marginally back in front.
With the 37-year-old on the outside, he took the racing line into Turn Two, which saw the door on Verstappen rapidly close.
Before too long there was no space for the Dutchman to go down the inside, despite this, though, he still decided to throw his car over the kerbs on the inside.
Unsurprisingly, it resulted in a collision between the pair, with Hamilton picking up minor floor damage whilst Verstappen broke his front-wing.
Hamilton immediately said on his radio “no racing incident”, something the FIA agreed with.
Verstappen was awarded a five-second time penalty for causing the collision; however, he still recovered to end the race in sixth, whilst Hamilton claimed second.
The Mercedes driver discussed the collision after the race, where he admitted he’s “not concerned” about fighting the Red Bull driver going forward.
“What can I say? You know how it is with Max,” said Hamilton.
“I am not concerned,” he added in the post-race press conference.
“I think it is natural when you have success and the numbers on your chest that you become a bit of a target but it’s OK.
“It isn’t anything I haven’t dealt with before.”
Verstappen was quick to blame Hamilton for the collision but noted that the incident “cost” the British driver the “race win”.
The Dutchman’s comment has grabbed some attention, with some fans questioning if Verstappen went for the move despite knowing it’d result in a collision.
The double World Champion discussed the incident from his point of view, where he admitted “I just went for it”.
“I went round the outside and I really felt he was not going to leave space, so I just went for it,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.
“He didn’t leave me space so I knew we were going to get together.
“It cost him the race win. For me, it gave me five seconds.
“It wouldn’t have mattered for my race because we’re just way too slow, but it’s just a shame because I thought we could race quite well together.
“Clearly the intention was not there to race.”
Interestingly, despite the FIA judging Verstappen to be at fault, many fans and ex-drivers have slammed Hamilton for not giving his rival enough room, with ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle being one of the them.
The argument is certainly there to be had that Hamilton could’ve given more room; however, he was ahead going into the corner whilst Verstappen also carried too much corner speed.
Both could be put at fault for the avoidable collision, had Hamilton given more room, and had Verstappen reduced his corner speed.
Given the speed he went into the corner, there is the chance that Verstappen would’ve still hit Hamilton even if he had been given room.
Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok analysed the collision after the race and believed the penalty for the Dutchman was “probably fair”, with the pundit believing that the stewards deemed the collision as “Max forcing Lewis off”.
“I think what the stewards have done is seen turn two and turn one as separate corners,” Chandhok explained on Sky Sports F1.
“They judged that Max forced Lewis off the track at turn two. As they drop down the hill, Max has come through with a great amount of speed and it’s ended up with both cars off the track.
“Max has one car’s width but he is on a very tight trajectory for turn two. Even if Lewis wasn’t there, Max would’ve had to go through turn two at a much lower speed than he would have if he was on the conventional racing line.
“As they come down the hill, there could have been an opportunity for Lewis to leave Max a bit more space, but the reality is in his situation is that was always a gap that was closing.
“Lewis turned into the corner and I think he was expecting Max to back out of it. Max has come through with significantly more speed than Lewis expected him to and they make contact and both drivers have ended up quite some way off the track.
“I think the stewards have judged it as Max forcing Lewis off the track. I think that is probably fair.”