After yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix, it seems that the fierce rivalry between 2021's two title contenders, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, has only become more dramatic despite neither contenders scoring points.
The controversial event took place on lap 26. The rivals had been separated from the start with Verstappen running in second behind race winner Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton in fourth.
After an uncharacteristically slow pit stop from Red Bull, and a partially quicker pit stop in the Mercedes garage, Hamilton looked to come out in front of title leader Verstappen into the tight right-to-left chicane of turn one.
While he was rushing out of the pits, Hamilton was eager on the inside line and squeezed Verstappen on the outside on the approach to the corner. Racing etiquette would argue that the Dutchman was entitled to more space on the outside as a collision was likely and the Red Bull ace could have been forced to use the escape road through the corner.
Despite this, Verstappen continued on the outside, trying to stay in the battle. The lack of space as well as the narrow profile of the chicane meant that he bounced on the high mounted kerbs on the outside of the corner, colliding with Hamilton as he re-entered the track.
The collision dramatically boosted Verstappen’s Red Bull into the air and sent both cars into the gravel trap where they would retire, with Verstappen’s car perching precariously on top of his rivals.
This event only further ignited the rivalry between the two drivers, which seems reminiscent of the likes of Hill versus Schumacher or even Prost versus Senna.
Much like these rivalries, many different views and arguments have been displayed from fans and drivers alike. Unlike these previous rivalries, however, drivers and fans took to Twitter to express their opinions.
Verstappen was first and expressed his disappointment towards the ‘unfortunate’ race and the decisions made by Hamilton. He stated: "The incident could have been avoided if I had been left enough space to make the corner. Two need two people to make that work and I feel I was squeezed out of it."
The tweet inspired mixed views from fans, some argued that it was ‘hard racing’ and an opportunistic move, whereas some were quick to criticise Max’s actions on and off the racetrack.
Many argued that Verstappen should have ‘backed out’ of the corner as an overtake was never possible without contact, while some argued that he was also partial to squeeze his competitors, such as on lap one, forcing Hamilton on the kerb of the Della Roggia Chicane.
Many fans were quick to compare the crash to that of Silverstone in July, an incident which saw the two come together and sent Verstappen out of the race. Many were quick to criticise Lewis’ actions of celebrating winning his home Grand Prix after climbing through the field from a 10-second time penalty after an accident that received medical attention for Verstappen at hospital, unbeknown by Lewis until after the race.
Yesterday's events saw Hamilton left stuck under the Red Bull. Many reminded Verstappen that it was his responsibility to check on the Brit's condition and described Max and Lewis as 'Class vs classless.'
While perhaps this was irresponsible, it was clear that Hamilton was trying to reverse his car in a fruitless attempt to unpin it from the Red Bull and salvage any result from the race.
Hamilton’s response neglected the incident and considered his gratefulness for being ‘reminded of how lucky I am’ and ‘today someone must have been looking down, watching over me!’ not explicitly attributing any blame for the incident.
The pictures included rather demonstrate how Formula One is increasingly acceding in its approach to safety and the effects of this. Technologies such as the Halo, introduced in 2018, continually saving the lives of divers such as Charles Leclerc, Romain Grosjean and now Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s own perspective, while not displayed on Twitter, his own views were displayed during his post-race interview where he described ‘Max went over the kerb, knew he wasn’t going to make the corner and drove into me.’
Much like in Silverstone, this incident has further polarised fans. Yet, rather than blasting each driver and their fans for their opinions within this or any incident, it seems that most fans, including myself, are gripped and entertained to see a title battle take place that almost certainly go down to the final rounds, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 2016.
After the race the FIA (the governing body in Formula One) concluded that Verstappen would be given a three-place penalty in the next round for his actions during the incident, hotly debated and perhaps controversial, agreeable or not, it is fair to argue that it only adds to what the history books will tell of the 2021 Formula One season.News Now - Sport News