Niki Lauda weighs in on Max Verstappen/Daniel Ricciardo crash at Azerbaijan GP

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a successful one for team Mercedes, and also British racer Lewis Hamilton, as he hit back at his doubters with a first-place finish after a disappointing start to the season.

However, the resounding victory for Hamilton was slightly overshadowed by an incident which took place on lap 39.

Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo had a heavy collision with each other, ruling both of them out the race and effectively destroying both vehicles. 

Many sympathised for the pair, but Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda did not hold back in his criticism, and blasted them both, particular Max Verstappen.

It is hard to tell whose fault it really was, but Lauda believes Verstappen did not give Ricciardo much of a chance, pulling out on him as the latter attempted to overtake. 

This incident had Red Bull team boss Christian Horner enraged, and he certainly did not hold back in his take of the crash. 

“They both recognise that they screwed up today and will be apologising to the team and to all members of the team,” Horner said.

“We allow them to race and allow them to go wheel-to-wheel. We spoke to them in team meetings about giving each other space, this was culmination of two guys talking things into their own hands, which shouldn’t have happened.

“There were probably three incidents between them through the race.

“They touched wheels and were told to calm it down, we don’t want to interfere with them going wheel-to-wheel.

“We are not apportioning blame one way or the other, they are both to blame for this.”

This crash was a devastating blow for team Red Bull, who were high on confidence after Ricciardo’s triumph in the Chinese Grand Prix, and Horner was rightly aggrieved with both drivers.

However, this incident did mean it was even easier for team Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to make up for bad form and take home the win, much to the delight of Niki Lauda and the Mercedes camp.

The Mercedes chairman was asked about his opinion on the crash, and claimed that Verstappen was ‘70%’ to blame. 

Asked what he would do if it was his team involved, Lauda said: “Go home and cry!.

“No, it’s a disaster and we had it once [at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix]. For me, it is 70 percent Verstappen and 30 percent Ricciardo. He was moving on him all the time, where can the poor guy go?”

Lauda continued when he was asked what he would have done if it was a Mercedes crash involving both their drivers.

“I would bring them in the office together with Toto [Wolff, Mercedes boss] and tell them how much less they will get paid because of the damage they have done. Really. We thought about this once, but we didn’t have to do it.”

Overall, it must be said no-one will really ever know whose fault it was, but it is certain that this incident will have a negative impact on the Red Bull team, and is sure to add even more suspense to an already intense and exciting Formula One season.

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