It was TAG Heuer vs IWC in the Italian Grand Prix crash – but was either driver really at fault?Time+Tide
EDITOR’S NOTE: Title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza at the weekend after a terrifying collision. Did the seven-time World Champ fail to give way? Or was Hamilton the victim of Verstappen’s reckless desire to win at all costs? Time+Time’s two resident F1 nuts, Fergus Nash and Ricardo Sime have their say.
Well, the inevitable finally happened. Never before have I been so enthralled and terrified by such a low speed crash, but seeing the slow-motion replay of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull slamming down onto the roll bar of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes was just another reason why we can be grateful the Halo system was introduced. With the Formula 1 safety discussion aside, everyone has to have their say about the next most obvious concern when title rivals crash — who is at fault?
For those tuning into the Sky F1 broadcast, Martin Brundle made it quite clear, stating matter-of-factly: “Max hasn’t done anything wrong there”. Unfortunately for the TAG Heuer Monaco-wearing Verstappen (I had to involve watches in this article somehow, right?), Martin Brundle is not part of the race stewards’ decision process, and he’s been given a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Russia. If you go by Instagram comments, you’ll see a barrage of Hamilton fans saying that Crashstappen wasn’t punished harsh enough, and the orange army of Max fans saying that the MaFIA is trying to gift Mercedes the championship yet again. But, the idea of “fair racing” is always skewed.
No matter what, F1 drivers attempt to gain advantages wherever they can, and that makes all of them hypocrites. Max will say he wasn’t given enough space, but if the roles were reversed he would have done the exact same squeeze manoeuvre. In my view, it was a racing incident between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, and taking himself out of the race was more than enough punishment for Verstappen. In the heat of battle, when drivers need to make nanosecond decisions with limited visibility, accidents will happen, and post-race penalties like these only serve to discourage the drivers from giving us the spectacle we all crave from F1.
As Fergus has already stated, this accident was inevitable. For months, we’ve watched as two amazing racers have continuously pushed the limits; trying to get any possible edge on their rival. Even taking that into account, I honestly believed that after Silverstone, both drivers had realised that they were fast approaching those limits. However, at Monza, it became quite clear, that wasn’t the case.
After the crash, I spent hours listening to many commentators chalking this up as simply a racing incident. And if it was any other pair of drivers, that’s what it would have been. But when taken into context, what I saw was an aggressive driver finally realizing that in a fight for a championship, the other guy isn’t just going to “give you room”.
It’s like when Mike Tyson’s famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.” For Max’s whole career, when the stakes weren’t as high, his competitors would normally back down when his “plan” would come into play. That aggression, quickness and inability to give an inch on the track were great traits to have then. But what he needs to realise (and I believe, after Monza, he does) is that those traits have to be fine tuned. Damn near surgical.
Because now, he is getting “hit” and Max’s inability to tame his aggression will find him watching more races from the sidelines.