In my 15 or so years of watching Formula 1, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a crash — or at least one that could fairly be described as a “racing incident” — generate so much discussion as the one between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last weekend’s British Grand Prix. Everyone lost their shit: Over the collision itself, who was more at fault and whether Hamilton’s 10-second penalty was severe enough. More than 48 hours later, people are continuing to lose their shit.
But nobody has expelled more shit in the wake of all this than Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s top advisor — though “advisor” doesn’t really do his clout within the team justice. Anyway, Marko called for Hamilton’s suspension after the collision, and more recently he said his squad has hired a lawyer to do what, exactly, I’m not sure.
We’ve learned this from Austrian paper Kronen Zeitung, who spoke to Marko. An excerpt from the story is translated below:
Now Red Bull Racing has handed the matter over to a lawyer. “He should check what could be done in such a situation within the framework of the sports law,” said Head of Motorsport Helmut Marko, who had already put a ban for Hamilton during the race.
“Please, in this procedure. Especially with the consequences. It was a huge stroke of luck that nothing serious happened to Max, the car, probably also the engine, is broken. You can’t let that sit on you. A suspension would be justified,” rumbled the Styrian, who also cannot understand the 10-second penalty for the Mercedes driver.
Of course, Marko isn’t the only individual at Red Bull or Mercedes incensed by what transpired on Sunday and clearly invested in steering the narrative one way or the other. We also got that wonderful FIA radio exchange where Mercedes boss Toto Wolff asked race director Michael Masi if he’d checked his emails immediately after the crash. Masi, in the spirit of maintaining a healthy work/life balance as we all should, shut that down and told Wolff he hadn’t thumbed through his inbox on Sunday afternoon. Or, maybe he was just doing his job and watching the race.
That was amusing, but Marko refusing to let this one go is starting to grate. Especially considering his driver could’ve been severely injured or worse, and was lucky to emerge from the whole episode just shaken. At this point, you’d hope for a bit of calm reflection in knowing Verstappen’s healthy and will obviously redouble his efforts to take the fight to Hamilton, in a car that so far this season has proven to be largely better than Mercedes’. But that’s not enough for the guy.
I’d also recommend Marko maybe read the room for a minute and consider indefensible racist vitriol spewed at Hamilton during and after the incident, on social media. Red Bull certainly isn’t responsible for all that garbage, though comments like these aren’t doing much to dampen the flames. At what point do you drop the party line, reflect on everything that’s happened and just move on?
All that said, none of this is really surprising. Helmut Marko is the man who raised the, uh, shall we say prewar idea of sending all Red Bull’s drivers to a COVID-19 “camp” where they would supposedly contract the virus and then gain superhuman abilities, I guess? Again, the things that routinely come out of his mouth don’t make a whole lot of sense. Last weekend he also blamed the premature demise of Alex Albon’s F1 career on Hamilton, for colliding with him at the Austrian Grand Prix last year. That’s a riot coming from the guy who runs a team that expends young drivers like tires in qualifying. I look forward to find out what Red Bull’s crack-shot legal counsel schemes up to right this horrible injustice “within the framework of the sports law.”