Max Verstappen accused of ‘intentionally blocking’ Hamilton in Austria

Max Verstappen accused of 'intentionally blocking' Hamilton in Austria

Max Verstappen was accused of committing a “revenge foul” on Lewis Hamilton in Austria according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and F1 analyst Naomi Schiff claiming it was ‘clearly intentional’.

This comes after Mercedes’ Hamilton and Red Bull’s Verstappen were observed swapping a series impeding incidents during the Austrian Grand Prix Sprint shootout, but the stewards failed to notice the exchange.

Initially Verstappen would get behind Hamilton on his flying lap and accuse the Mercedes driver of impeding him with a block as he entered the penultimate curve. Verstappen would later overtake into Turn 1 and thwart Hamilton’s attempt as he afterwards launched his flying lap.

Verstappen’s actions were termed by Wolff as a “revenge foul” as it resulted in Hamilton getting eliminated from the sprint shootout during the preliminary round of qualifying.

Sky F1 analyst Naomi Schiff responded that Verstappen was taking a big risk given that impeding has typically resulted in repercussions from Race Control so far in F1 2023. Schiff entirely agreed with the Mercedes team boss.

“It’s quite clear that that’s exactly what it was,” said Schiff. “You can see his frustration, from what we heard.”

“Apparently Max was saying that he didn’t think that lap he’d just completed, that he felt he was impeded by Lewis in, would have been enough to get him through.

“So he decided he wanted to start another lap and that’s why he impeded him in Turn 1. So if we choose to believe that, my concern is on the exit of Turn 1 on the run up to Turn 2.

“He very clearly blocks him there as well, and I don’t understand why he’s done that.

“I mean, I get the frustration, you don’t want to be impeded, but he knows just how hard they’ve been policing exactly that this season so far, and he had a lot to lose by doing that.

“Drivers sometimes, really frustrated helmets on, and they make silly decisions, but it’s just unfortunate for Lewis, because for him, it was not an intentional move from him.

“Of course he impeded Max by being there, but Max was clearly a lot more intentional about what he was doing.”

Verstappen ultimately went on to secure the sprint race pole position, and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez would start beside him on the front row, triggering more chaos to break out at the start.

As Verstappen attempted to catch up going out of Turn 1, Perez made the faster getaway and initially took the lead. However, Perez pushed his teammate onto the grass at one point and Verstappen labeled the maneuver “not okay” after the race.

Verstappen went on to win by a margin of 21 seconds over Perez, who recovered to finish in second place. Verstappen took the lead again at Turn 3 after forcing Perez wide in a maneuver that actually caused him to lose P2 to Nico Hulkenberg of Haas.

Perez’s argument after the duel was that he initially failed to notice Verstappen attempting to advance beside him. This allegation as well was received with skepticism, this time from 1996 World Champion Damon Hill.

“Maybe his defence is a little bit weak in saying he didn’t see him,” Hill said on Sky F1. “He must have known that Max was somewhere and he certainly [looks] in the mirror and then does make a move.

“But he gave him not much room, poor old Max had to get a little bit on the grass.

“I think that revved up Max a bit and he basically decided to brake really late into Turn 3 and that kind of nearly let everyone else through on the inside.

“It would have had hearts in mouths on the pit wall at Red Bull.”

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