Brundle: Assessing Hamilton-Verstappen’s latest crash and McLaren

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imageThe Formula 1 2021 calendar

True to form in this remarkable championship, numerous circumstances dictated that the two championship contenders would end up fighting over the same piece of tarmac.Verstappen falling behind Ricciardo at the start meant that he didn’t pull out anything like the gap expected out front.Meanwhile Hamilton’s poor start in the Sprint race meant he only started the main race in fourth place.

Red Bull delivered an unusually very slow 11-second pit stop for Max, and Mercedes delivered a steady four-second stop for Lewis.It just so happened that with all of these factors after 26 laps they were destined to meet.

As Lewis exited the pits he was obliged to stay to the righthand side for the very long pit-exit line which, for safety reasons, obliges drivers not to join the racing line where the cars are doing 200+ mph into a heavy braking zone.Lewis would have been informed it was tight, and as he said afterwards he knew Max was there and duly left him a car’s width as per the regulations.

This was a key moment for the race and championship and both drivers knew that overtaking a similarly paced car was extremely difficult and they both needed to be in front.

Max had the advantage of full visibility and a hot lap under his fresh tyres, Lewis was straight out of the pits and these cars are clumsy to see out of in the mirrors or with peripheral vision.

The incident can be replayed relentlessly and in slow motion, but it all happened extremely quickly in real time.These two drivers are experienced, streetwise, super competitive, and know all the tricks of the trade and the consequences.There was virtually no time for conscious thought, it was all about reflexes and instincts.

Max went around the outside of Lewis in turn one, a bona fide move made with his car totally under control.

It was not a wild manoeuvre with tyres locked up or suchlike.

He would have appeared in Lewis’s vision extremely quickly, and you can hear your rival too in such close quarters.

The call that Max should have taken to the escape road as a matter of course doesn’t stack up because then the ‘move’ is then over as you must to yield position.They both knew he had to complete the chicane on track.

If this is the expected default course of action why is the escape road full of nasty and potentially car damaging ‘sausage kerbs’, and why are drivers regularly penalised for using them here and at the second chicane?

Lewis turned in expecting Max to take to the runoff, as indeed had happened the other way around earlier in the race and back in Imola for example.Max hoped there would be enough space, but Lewis gave up yielding back at Silverstone on race day.Sky F1’s Paul di Resta was at the SkyPad to analyse the controversial collision between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which saw both cars crash out.

Sky F1’s Paul di Resta was at the SkyPad to analyse the controversial collision between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which saw both cars crash out.

Maybe it was an over-ambitious move but it had to be made.Max was fully committed, perhaps he should have braked or backed out of the throttle but I doubt there was time, and he wanted the pass.

At the end of the day their rear tyres connected which is quite telling.Maybe Lewis should have yielded and given more space in that split second, he was a long way into the middle of the track towards turn two, but why should he?

That’s why in live commentary I called it a racing incident and I stand by that.The Stewards have given Max a three-place grid drop for Sochi, and given their copious amounts of car and track data, varied camera angles, and interviewing both drivers, they duly considered it more Max’s fault than Lewis’s.

It must be said that neutral points on race day in Monza was probably a net gain for Max over Lewis given expected car performances, but they’re two world-class drivers really going for it head to head in a championship where literally every point will count come the day of reckoning.

F1’s safety improvements key and the other talking points

The aerial and scary nature of the aftermath has a touch of ‘I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often’ feel about it.The physics of the vertical suspension and tyre sidewall movement from Max’s Red Bull on the kerb added to tyre contact with Lewis simply springboarded his car into the air and across the Mercedes.

The rollover hoop and Halo did a magnificent job of protecting Lewis’s head, and thankfully Max’s right rear wheel wasn’t under power like his left rear wheel gently was.These cars have the footprint of a full-size Range Rover with enormous and unprotected sticky tyres on each corner, and then they are pitted against each other in high-speed competition in confined areas.Incidents will happen.

I’m reticent to count the number of certain lives saved due to the Halo, in my own personal experience I’ve been hit on the head three times by a flying racing car (Ayrton Senna 1983 F3, Patrick Tambay Monaco 1986 F1, and Jos Verstappen 1994 Brazil F1).

I also managed to hit my head on the barrier and racetrack in the same accident in Monaco 1984.We did survive incidents, but these latest safety additions are very much proving their worth not least in shunts like this one and Romain Grosjean’s in Bahrain last year.Well done to the FIA and the teams.

Valtteri Bottas had a truly impressive weekend with the Sprint victory and driving through the surviving field from 19th to a very fine podium and third place.He described it as one of his best GPs for Mercedes in the week it was confirmed he is Alfa Romeo bound and will not retain his Merc seat.

F1 is a funny old business.Sky Formula One’s Karun Chandhok says it is a huge relief that Lewis Hamilton walked away unscathed from his crash at the Italian GP and thinks it is right that Max Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for his part in the incident.Sky Formula One’s Karun Chandhok says it is a huge relief that Lewis Hamilton walked away unscathed from his crash at the Italian GP and thinks it is right that Max Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for his part in the incident.

Williams scored points for the third time in four GPs with a solid ninth place for Mercedes inbound George Russell, and Ferrari had a reasonable weekend with Leclerc and Sainz fifth and sixth.Alpha Tauri had a most miserable weekend after Pierre Gasly’s unlucky shunt in the Sprint and subsequent reliability issues for both cars, even before the race started for Yuki Tsunoda.Also See: FIA to investigate ‘unusual’ crash

Once again, I thought the Sprint format energised Friday and Saturday, and played a role in the jeopardy and outcome of the main race by having a race rather than any kind of artificial grid reversal or weight ballast.If the 2022 cars are much better at overtaking as promised, then the Sprint format will work better.

There’s plenty more to come from the Hamilton/Verstappen duel, it will be hard and bitter racing, let’s hope it remains safe for them both.

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