Verstappen’s maneuver at Turn 1 after being delayed by Hamilton at the final corner with only 12 seconds left in Q1 was described as a “revenge foul” by Toto Wolff. However, the Red Bull driver voiced his discontent with Hamilton’s driving during the incident and described the aftermath as “somewhat regrettable”.
The Story of Sprint Q1
Hamilton was gearing up for a final Q1 attempt as time was ticking towards the chequered flag. His best time was eliminated in the initial part of the second qualifying session due to exceeding the track limits at the final corner. He was travelling at a slow pace to establish a distance from Yuki Tsunoda and was not alerted to Verstappen’s speedy arrival by Mercedes until the Dutchman was immediately behind him.
As they both sped towards the pit straight, Hamilton started his lap and Verstappen completed his. The Red Bull then overtook the Mercedes heading towards the first corner. Verstappen did not seem to pick up speed normally from the uphill, right-angle corner and gestured angrily at Hamilton from his RB19. From his W14, Hamilton reported, “Verstappen just abandoned his lap”.
The fallout of the incident was that Hamilton ran out of time to complete another lap and ended up starting the Red Bull Ring weekend’s first race in 18th place, while Verstappen progressed with the second-fastest Q1 time, even after encountering Hamilton at Turn 10.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Steven Tee / F1 Flow Images
The Two Sides’ Perspective on the Incident
Autosport/F1 Flow.com requested explanations from both sides following Verstappen’s sprint race victory, where he finished ahead of Sergio Perez and Hamilton, who finished 10th. The FIA was also contacted for clarification.
In the post-race press conference, Verstappen gave his version of the events, while Wolff represented Mercedes during his typical Saturday media call.
Max Verstappen: “He (Hamilton) blocked me at the last corner, causing me to brake more and lose about three tenths. That was far from ideal and, I believe, incorrect. However, I continued because I wasn’t sure my lap time would be safe with a few seconds remaining on the clock. But, unfortunately, I ran out of time and space due to the two cars.”
Toto Wolff: “Yes, I believe the error was on our part – there was a lack of communication between us and Lewis, we didn’t instruct him to move out of Max’s way. It’s never the intention to obstruct because penalties are incurred if you do so. In contrast, Turn 1 was a revenge foul by Max, aimed at spoiling Lewis’s lap. One was unintentional, the other intentional. But, does it really matter? We considered if it would affect our race or not. I presume it will be discussed in the drivers’ briefing next week.”
The Reason Behind the Absence of an FIA Investigation
Autosport/F1 Flow.com reported that neither Mercedes nor Red Bull flagged the incident to race control immediately after it happened.
There was also no instance during the sprint qualifying when the FIA timing and information system indicated that their driving was under observation by race control for potential referral to the stewards for a thorough investigation.
Mercedes is believed to have later brought up the incident to the FIA, not intending to spark an investigation but acknowledging its communication failure with its driver which led to the whole event. Hamilton was also potentially at risk of a penalty for blocking Verstappen.
As per the understanding, the FIA will discuss the incident with all drivers at the pre-British GP drivers’ meeting as Wolff mentioned.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Verstappen Hamilton F1 Clash
What incident took place during Sprint Q1 between Verstappen and Hamilton?
Verstappen was held up by Hamilton at the final corner of Sprint Q1. This led Verstappen to make a maneuver at Turn 1, which Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes, described as a “revenge foul”. Hamilton claimed that Verstappen aborted his lap, which led to an incident where Hamilton couldn’t set another lap and ended up starting the race in 18th place.
Why did Toto Wolff call Verstappen’s driving a “revenge foul”?
Toto Wolff called Verstappen’s driving a “revenge foul” because he believes Verstappen intentionally ruined Hamilton’s lap as payback for Hamilton delaying him in the final corner of the track.
What were the results of the incident for Hamilton and Verstappen?
Hamilton was unable to set another lap due to the incident, which resulted in him starting the Red Bull Ring weekend’s first race in 18th position. Meanwhile, Verstappen managed to qualify with the second-fastest Q1 time, even after the incident with Hamilton at Turn 10.
Why wasn’t the incident investigated by the FIA?
Neither Mercedes nor Red Bull reported the incident to race control immediately after it occurred. Mercedes did mention the incident to the FIA later, but not with the intention of starting an investigation, as it acknowledged its own communication failure with Hamilton which led to the incident.
What was Verstappen’s response to the incident?
Verstappen expressed his annoyance at Hamilton’s driving during the incident. He explained that Hamilton blocked him at the last corner, causing him to brake more and lose time, which he considered incorrect.