Red Bull have strongly denied any suggestion Max Verstappen deliberately collided with Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix.
The two championship contenders touched for the second time this season at Monza, but unlike at Silverstone where only the Dutchman retired, this time both were eliminated as the Red Bull went over the top of the Mercedes at the first chicane.
Unsurprisingly, offering their reaction, Verstappen and Hamilton blamed each other, drawing comparison to a similar incident on Lap 1, when Lewis bailed across the kerbs at the Roggia chicane.
“I don’t think you can judge them exactly the same because he just kept squeezing and squeezing while I was really alongside,” said Max.
“You need two people to work together to make the corner. If one guy is not willing to work, it’s not going to happen.
“We are fighting for position and unfortunately we touched. It’s very unfortunate what happened today, nobody likes to see that.”
Lewis said: “I was in exactly the same position, but I gave way, and that’s racing.
“He didn’t want to give way today. He knew that when he was going into Turn 2 what was going to happen. He knew he was going over the kerbs, but he still did it.
“We’ll speak to the stewards and see. But I don’t really know what else to say.”
Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for the Russian GP after the race, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hinted that there was a decision by Max to touch.
“The stewards are going to decide who is to blame, or predominantly to blame. We’ve seen that in the past,” he told Sky Sports.
“[Verstappen] doesn’t look like [he’s] alongside, then you go over the sausage kerb. But if you compare it to what Lewis said at Turn 4 in Lap 1, there was no space left and he was pushed off the track actually.
“But let the stewards make the judgement. I don’t want to be a panther, like some of my colleagues do.
“I think at that stage, [Hamilton] was on the inside and [Verstappen] just went straight off at the sausage kerb and jumped into him.”
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko quickly shot down Wolff and 1996 world champion Damon Hill, who also suggested Verstappen decided to “take Hamilton out”.
“It’s clear the two of them will not be friends,” he was quoted by grandpx.news as saying.
“It’s our fault with the pit stop that Max was near Hamilton, but I would declare it a racing incident.
“Hamilton could have left more space, but assuming Max did it intentionally is nonsense. It’s not like [Alain] Prost and [Ayrton] Senna either. The difference is huge.
“The result may be the same, but that was on purpose. This time neither of them had any such intention. You cannot plan for both of you to be out.”
The Mercedes boss did conclude with a call for the race officials to ensure the situation between Verstappen and Hamilton didn’t escalate further.
“If we don’t manage that in the right way – I’m sure the stewards will look at it in the right way – this is going to continue,” he said.
“We had a high-speed crash at Silverstone, we had one car landing on top of the other one on Lewis’ head, so how far can it go? Maybe next time we’ll have a high-speed crash and land on each other.
“If you see the car, the whole thing is damaged over the Halo and the wheel was on Lewis’ head.”