Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has revealed that he disagrees with the stewards’ decision to hand him a three-place grid penalty, following his collision with Lewis Hamilton during 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
Verstappen endured a difficult race as he lost the lead off the line to eventual race winner – McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo before a slow pit-stop dropped him to tenth on Lap 24.
Hamilton made his stop two laps later and pulled up alongside Verstappen into Variante del Rettifilo as he exited the pits, leaving racing room for his title rival as he turned in only for Verstappen to lunge round the outside and launched over the sausage kerb and across the top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Both drivers consequently ended up in the gravel retiring on the spot as Verstappen hopped straight out of his stricken Red Bull and scarpered straight back to Red Bull’s garage, as Hamilton waited before climbing out of his car and heading back to the paddock.
Explaining what had happened from his perspective, Verstappen argued that they “were racing for position” and that Hamilton had “just kept squeezing until there wasn’t room anymore for two cars and that’s when we crashed.”.
The 23 year-old also admitted that he was trying to “race hard but fair” before adding that he disagreed with the stewards’ decision to award a three-place grid penalty for Sochi, Russia, saying: “I don’t fully agree with the penalty as I believe it was a racing incident. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but we are both professionals and so we will move on.”
Team Principal, Christian Horner echoed Verstappen’s disappointment as he revealed his belief that the collision “was a genuine racing incident.”
Horner also noted that valid arguments can be made for both drivers but acknowledged that there is a “frustrating and disappointing” feeling of seeing both title contenders out of the race, whilst praising the halo for doing it’s job in protecting Hamilton from the floor of Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Sergio Perez meanwhile finished fifth after being hit with a five-second time penalty following an illegal overtake on Charles Leclerc on Lap 32, in which the Mexican claimed third which he held to the checkered flag on the road after failing to hand the position back.
Perez’s blunder also meant that their wait for a first podium at Monza since 2013 goes on for another year, with the Mexican describing his race as “very eventful” yet is disappointed to not finish on the podium.
Explaining that he had hoped that stewards would show a “wider view in the sense that it was my corner and I was ahead of Charles,” Perez was unimpressed by the penalty on a track where he felt “overtaking was impossible” due to difficulty in keeping ahead of cars behind him.
Perez though was praising of his former team – McLaren of who he drove for in 2013 as he described the team as “really quick and difficult to beat,” especially on the straights in which it was hard to follow them without hurting his tyres.
Horner meanwhile described Perez’s penalty as “marginal” owing to the lack of instructions from stewards concerning whether he should of given the position back or not, although he was delighted with Perez’s pace under immense pressure from Leclerc then Valtteri Bottas.