Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Max Verstappen’s collision with Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix was a tactical move because the Dutchman had realized he’d lost the position.
Hamilton emerged from his pit stop on the inside of Verstappen on the run to Turn 1, with the Red Bull driver having lost a number of positions due to a slow stop a few laps earlier. After trying to overtake around the outside of the first corner, Verstappen attempted to hang on to get the inside line for Turn 2 but did not have enough space and ran over the large apex curb with his car, climbing on top of Hamilton’s car and his right rear wheel hitting the Mercedes driver’s head.
“The halo definitely saved Lewis’ life,” Wolff said. “It would have been a horrible accident that I don’t even want to think about if we didn’t have the halo.
“I think Lewis gave a lot of space in Turn 4 on lap one and avoided a collision. Maybe I am more unsportsmanlike than Lewis because I would have ended the race there (for both drivers), at least we would have had less engine mileage. What happened is the other way around but without avoiding the contact. This is what we need to avoid in the future: taking each other out tactically because you know you have lost the position.”
However, Wolff denied that meant Verstappen was totally at fault for the collision at Monza, suggesting that it’s a willingness to have a crash that needs to be addressed before either driver is seriously injured.
“No, I didn’t say he was completely to blame or an absolute judgement on the incident,” Wolff said. “What I said was one could see it as a tactical foul with the bias each of us needs to acknowledge. We don’t want to have situations in the future where one loses a position and the only way of stopping the other one scoring is to take him out.
“Both of them need to leave space for each other, race each other hard but avoid accidents. It was good fun until now, but we have seen the Halo save Lewis’ life and Max had this heavy impact in Silverstone, and we don’t want to get to a situation where we intervene because someone gets really hurt.”