Verstappen clashes at Monza
Max Verstappen was bounced out of the Italian Grand Prix in a mid-race collision with title rival Lewis Hamilton in a dramatic Italian Grand Prix in which Sergio Perez salvaged 10 points for the Team with fifth place at the flag.
After losing ground in his pit stop Max dropped from P2 behind race leader Daniel Ricciardo to ninth place. Hamilton claimed the race lead after passing McLaren’s Lando Norris, but then had a slow pit stop himself. That released the Mercedes driver into the path of Max and as they went through the first chicane they clashed. Max’s car briefly went airborne before landing on top of the Mercedes. They slid into the gravel and out of the race.
Perez, meanwhile, pitted under the resultant Safety Car and rose to fourth when racing resumed. He soon muscled past Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to potentially claim a podium place. However, his move past the Monégasque driver was investigated as he had completed the pass off track. He was handed a five-second penalty. He crossed the line in P3 but with the penalty applied dropped to fifth behind third-placed Valtteri Bottas and Leclerc.
Discussing the race, Max Verstappen commented: “We were racing for position today but you need two people to work together to make the corner and Lewis just kept squeezing until there wasn’t room anymore for two cars and that’s when we crashed. When he exited the pits, he started to squeeze me going into Turn 1 so I had to use the green part of the track. It was very tight but there was room for me to go around the outside and then I was pushed onto the orange sausage kerb. I was there to try and race hard but fair. I don't fully agree with the penalty as I believe it was a racing incident. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but we are both professionals and so we will move on.”
With the title rivals colliding, Verstappen remains five points ahead of Hamilton in the title race on 226.5 points in total, while Perez’s 10 points for P5 means he'll stay fifth in the Drivers Standings on 118 points. The team remains on P2 in the Constructors' 18 points behind Mercedes on 344.5 points.
Discussing the first lap chaos, Sergio Perez said: “It was a very eventful race and a real shame to miss out on the podium. With the penalty, I think we hoped for a wider view in the sense that it was my corner and I was ahead of Charles, but it is what it is and we tried to recover. From our side we did the best possible race we could as a Team but overtaking was impossible today and it was really difficult to keep ahead of the cars behind. McLaren were really quick and difficult to beat, they’ve been solid this weekend and especially on the straights they were hard to follow. They had very strong traction so at no point could I be a threat to them, but as a Team this wasn’t our track, we weren’t so strong here so now we move on and look forward to Russia. There is still a long way to go in this championship.”
The Italian GP played host to the second ever Formula 1 Sprint Qualifying session. After a superb getaway, Max Verstappen passed Hamilton to finish second meaning the Dutchman started the Italian Grand Prix from the front of the grid after Bottas started at the back due to engine changes. Perez, lost out initially but worked his way back to P9 at the flag and started the race from eighth place on the grid. To learn more about how Sprint races work, click here.
Commenting on the race, Team Principal Christian Horner said: “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. The main thing today is that the halo ultimately did its job and certainly this isn’t the way we intended to finish the race. With Checo, he was desperately unlucky and we felt it was very marginal given there was no instruction from the race office to give the position back. We had to make a decision whether or not to get on with the race, and so we got our heads down and then Checo was handed the penalty. He drove some strong laps under intense pressure but was unable to open up a gap and so we were sad to finish third on the road but fifth overall with only one car scoring points.”
The paddock now has a weekend break before heading to Sochi for the Russian GP with FP1 beginning on 24 September 2021.