A predictable scenario ended in predictable fashion when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, racing hard into Monza’s first corner during Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, collided and took each other out of contention in a flash. Both drivers were coming off botched pit stops — though Verstappen’s was considerably more delayed than his rival’s — and ended up meeting in the tightest turns on the calendar’s fastest circuit. If either’s stop had taken a second more or less time, it never would have happened.
The Red Bull driver was handed a three-spot grid penalty for the upcoming Russian Grand Prix for his actions in the incident. The FIA has effectively placed all the blame on Verstappen in that decision. Whether the powers that be are right or wrong in doing that, typically Formula 1 teams respond to such accusations and punishment with swift appeals and by goosing the other party in the media. This is how Red Bull reacted the last time these two clashed, during the opening lap of the British Grand Prix. Interestingly, the Austrian team isn’t playing that card this time.
Is that because Red Bull knows Verstappen was in the wrong, as one of Mercedes’ team directors suggested to Motorsport.com? Perhaps. Is it because Red Bull doesn’t believe it has a strong enough case to bring to the stewards? If you ask me, that’s probably more likely. Verstappen enters the next round leading Hamilton in the standings by five points, and he snagged two of those by finishing second in the sprint race before the Italian GP. Retiring alongside Hamilton was hardly the worst case scenario for him this past weekend.
Whatever the reason for the calm is, it’s so strange for Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s races to end how they did yesterday — their cars literally piled atop each other — and not watch it blow up in the press the following morning. We even heard Red Bull team principal Christian Horner dither a bit in his post-race reaction to F1's Sam Collins, describing the crash as “ultimately a racing incident” before saying his driver “earned [the right] to be given a bit more space.”
Unlike after the Silverstone debacle, Red Bull doesn’t seem to be warming up the car for Alex Albon to uncover more “evidence” on the Monza collision. Most of y’all watching that offered your two cents in our comments yesterday seemed to agree Verstappen was largely at fault. The FIA made a decisive call, and the team that lost out doesn’t appear to be interested in fighting it. This is a historic moment of unity within the racing world. We can thank the halo for likely saving Hamilton’s life, celebrate McLaren’s long overdue day of triumph and await the next time tensions between these two inevitably boil over.