Yet another chapter of the thrilling, fractious title battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was written at Monza, as the pair clashed on Lap 26 of the Italian Grand Prix, clearing the way for McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo to take a historic win – with Verstappen insistent that he’d been run out of road by his title rival in the incident.
Hamilton had just exited the pits after his first stop when he came alongside Verstappen – who, after holding P2 behind Ricciardo in the early part of the race, had dropped down the order after an 11.1s pit stop.
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As the pair negotiated the tight Variante del Rettifilo, they made contact, with Verstappen’s Red Bull lifted into the air, hitting Hamilton’s roll hoop before landing on the Mercedes’ front wing – with Verstappen giving his version of events to the media afterwards.
“We saw it was going to be tight into Turn 1 and Lewis also realised that, so after the white line, he nearly moved to the left under braking,” said Verstappen. “So I already had to move onto the green side next to the track.
2021 Italian Grand Prix: Huge moment as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collide and crash out at Monza
“But then nevertheless, I thought we were going to have a nice fight into Turn 1, through Turn 2,” added Verstappen. “But as soon as I was next to him, he just kept on squeezing me more and more to the left. I still thought we’ll just have enough space to make it into Turn 2, but unfortunately, he ran me a bit too much out of road, so then I clipped the sausage kerb and that’s why we touched.”
READ MORE: Hamilton says Verstappen ‘obviously knew he wasn’t going to make the corner’ after Monza crash
Asked if he’d spoken to Hamilton yet, Verstappen – who’d immediately walked away from the scene of the crash after climbing out of his car – replied: “In that heated moment, it’s better to just walk off and everyone just to calm down. I’m sure we’ll talk about it.”
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Having started on pole before being beaten to Turn 1 by Ricciardo, the crash capped off a day when nothing much had gone right for Verstappen – with the Dutchman saying that Red Bull had plenty to analyse away from his headline-stealing clash with Hamilton in the coming days
“Today a lot of things went wrong,” said Verstappen. “The start went wrong, the strategy went wrong, the pit stops went wrong. So a lot of things to analyse. I think overall, we were always quite strong in a lot of things, but today a few weaknesses which we’ll try to analyse and do better.”
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With neither Hamilton nor Verstappen scoring in the Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen maintains his lead of five points over the Mercedes driver, having earned two points for finishing second to Valtteri Bottas in Saturday’s F1 Sprint – with the stewards set to investigate Hamilton and Verstappen’s clash on Sunday evening.