Max Verstappen says he trusted Lewis Hamilton would give him more room in their incident that forced both cars to retire from the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was emerging from the pits with Verstappen on his outside as they approached Turn 1, fighting for what was effectively third place behind the two McLarens. As Verstappen tried to overtake around the outside, Hamilton kept his nose ahead but the Red Bull driver did not take to the run-off area, and after being launched off the apex curb at Turn 2 his car went over the top of the Mercedes, taking both out of the race.
Another hugely dramatic moment in the Verstappen/Hamilton title battle 💥😮#ItalianGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/P4J4bN6wX2
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2021
“Of course it was very unfortunate, what happened with the outcome,” Verstappen said. “When he came out of the pits, he realized that it was going to be very close — he realized that soon after the white line was finished, under braking he moved to the left, already I had to run onto the green bit. I still thought there was opportunity to fight.
“I went around the outside and then he kept slowly moving me out of space and of course, I had to take the sausage curb. Unfortunately we touched. At the end of the day, it was very unfortunate because I don’t think it was necessary. If we kept racing he would’ve still got me out of the car because there’s more traction on the outside of Turn 2. Unfortunately we touched.
“At the end of the day, after it’s easy to say you can avoid these things. At the time you have to trust each other and hope that you leave each other enough space. Very quickly of course, there wasn’t space for two cars.”
Verstappen says he didn’t want bail out of the corner and not try to fight Hamilton for the position, pointing to a later incident where Sergio Perez cut a chicane overtaking Charles Leclerc and received a five-second time penalty.
“I always say it takes two people to work together. I didn’t want to take the easy route and just drive off — then you get into a moment like Checo with a penalty or whatever. I didn’t want to get into that scenario.
“I trusted him to fight, I wanted him to fight — everybody starts to put the link between Silverstone in the memory, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it. We are all professional enough to keep on going and race each other. Unfortunately we came together. It would’ve been nice, if we could’ve raced, what happens afterwards in (Turns) 3 and 4. We didn’t get that far.”
With Hamilton being hit in the head by Verstappen’s right-rear wheel and the Halo protecting him from more serious injury, the Dutchman says he knew his rival was OK because he was trying to rejoin the race.
“Lewis was fine, he was still trying to reverse. I was already out of the car — when you’re not fine, you’re not doing that. With the stewards, I’m just going to explain what I explain here. There’s not much more to say, we’ll see what comes out of it.”