Lewis Hamilton said Max Verstappen could have avoided the crash that took both racers out of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Formula 1’s top two drivers ended their respective races on Lap 26 of the race; Hamilton exited the pits and had the inside track on Turn 1, but collided with Verstappen after the latter mounted the kerb. When the two cars touched rear wheels, it launched Verstappen onto Hamilton, with only the latter’s Halo cockpit protecting him from bodily harm.
Asked about the crash after the race, Hamilton said Verstappen “absolutely” could have avoided the collision.
“Absolutely. It’s exactly the same scenario that happened in Turn 4 where I went around the outside, was in exactly the same position, but I gave way,” Hamilton told Sky Sports (via ESPN). “And that’s racing. He just didn’t want to give way today and he knew going into Turn 2 what was going to happen.
“He knew that he was going over the kerbs, but he still did it.”
Verstappen initially appeared to blame Hamilton for the crash, saying over his team radio in the ensuing moments, “That’s what you get when you don’t leave the space.” He held to that opinion post-race, telling reporters Hamilton had no need to squeeze the line.
“I didn’t expect him to just keep on squeezing, squeezing, squeezing, because he didn’t need to,” Verstappen said. “Even if he had left just a car’s width, we would have raced out of Turn 2 anyway. I think he would have probably still been in front. But he just kept on pushing me wider, wider, wider and then at one point there was nowhere to go. He just pushed me onto the sausage kerb and that’s, at the end of the day, why we touched because the rear tyre bumped up to the tire.”
When reporters compared the race-ending collision with the one on the opening lap — in which Hamilton went over the kerb to avoid causing a crash — Verstappen said, “I don’t think you can judge them exactly the same, because he just kept on squeezing and squeezing and I was a lot alongside him.”
The two not only went wheel-to-wheel in the lap’s opening race, but also crashed at the British Grand Prix on July 18. In that incident, Verstappen left to get checked at the hospital while Lewis went on to win.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo went on to win Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
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