Opinion: Why Verstappen Did Have The Right To Racing Room In Hamilton Crash – WTF1
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Opinion: Why Verstappen Did Have The Right To Racing Room In Hamilton Crash

It’s officially a three-place grid penalty for Max Verstappen in Sochi. He’s been blamed by the Stewards for that scary crash that put him and Lewis Hamilton out of the Italian GP. That’s an interesting decision. 

As you’d expect, the crash has fueled the usual Twitter arguments about who’s to blame. I think neither of them are to blame, though, but obviously, the grid penalty for Max is the official answer so let’s try and understand the Stewards’ decision.

The crash was investigated after the race, and the Stewards spoke to Lewis and Max. They agreed with Lewis that Max didn’t get far enough alongside early enough and should’ve backed out of the move. Let’s dissect what led them to that. 

“The driver of Car 44 (Lewis) was driving an avoiding line, although his position caused Car 33 (Max) to go onto the kerb.”

They’re saying that Lewis gave space whilst still racing and allowed Max to go alongside him and keep a lot of his car on track. Both drivers here are well within the rules.

“But further, the Stewards observed that Car 33 was not at all alongside Car 44 until significantly into the entry into Turn 1. In the opinion of the Stewards, this manoeuvre was attempted too late for the driver of Car 33 to have “the right to racing room”.”

Again, the start of the statement is accurate, Max’s move was late, and he got more alongside going into the corner because he took more speed in and was on the outside. That’s normal racing.

But then we enter the sticky realms of “opinion”. In the eyes of the Stewards, Max got alongside too late for “the right to racing room”. Yes, even though he got alongside on the racetrack, it was too late to have the “right” to be there! I don’t get this. I appreciate that racing at chicanes is tricky and tight, but because a move is late, it doesn’t mean it has no right.  

Obviously, there are no-hoper overtakes, but this clearly wasn’t one.

What the Stewards are trying to say here is that Lewis had every right to run Max out wide and towards the run-off. Lewis could go as wide as he liked. 

It’s usually considered fair for the driver on the inside to open up the steering and force the driver on the outside to back out or go off the track. On lap one, Hamilton and Verstappen went side by side, this time with Max on the inside, at the Turn 4/5 chicane, the Della Roggia. In that scenario, Max did just that, opened up the steering, as is his right, and forced Lewis to bail and take to the run-off. That’s all fine. That’s a racing incident. 

The difference in the Turn 1/2 incident is that Max had room to stay on track and not back out. He wanted to complete the move rather than give up. He’s been penalised because his attempt to stay on track has caused the accident. That’s the tricky part for me. Surely not bailing out should be fine and not the justification for the penalty? If he had backed out late and gone on the run-off, it all would’ve been hunky-dory by the looks.

I don’t disagree with the Stewards that Max could have done that, and the incident could have been avoided. But I do disagree with their assumption that he should have done it and had no right to be there.

Lewis gave him the right to be there by not running him all the way out as Max did to him on Lap 1. Lewis took a respectful line and handed Max the right to race there. 

The racetrack isn’t just corner entry. It goes way beyond that. Max can get alongside anywhere if he can do it legitimately and set up a move. He was on the track and alongside. If Lewis had left him less room, then it would be foolish to hang in there. But he didn’t. It was valid for both drivers to try and make the corner. 

I think that Max and Lewis were allowed to race there, and it is a racing incident. Both drivers could’ve done more to avoid the crash, obviously, but that’s always the case. 

Valtteri Bottas put it best: “It’s unfortunate.”

The most important part is that Lewis and Max were both able to walk away. Seeing cars go up in the air is terrifying, and whilst it can be high drama for us, it isn’t nice to see. It’s fantastic to see both drivers get out completely uninjured. Safe to say, the strength of the roll hoop and halo saved Lewis. 

16 thoughts on “Opinion: Why Verstappen Did Have The Right To Racing Room In Hamilton Crash

  • Nah, Max was not alongside him in the entry to turn 1 so Lewis could take his normal line and and had the right to choose not to leave space to Max either in turn 1 or 2. In chicanes, to overtake from the outside you have to be almost wheel-to-wheel with the other driver so the other driver cannot take the apex in the 2nd part without hitting you.

  • Lorenzo Schoovaerts says:

    Well you say “it was too late to have the “right” to be there! I don’t get this.”.
    It’s simple really. Lewis was with his nose almost at the apex of the next corner when Max ran him plain off. If you then say: “Lewis should give room” then anyone can just throw their cars into you and expect you to move over. Ironically, Max NEVER gives 1 inch himself. Rewatch the first lap, first chicane from Lando’s cockpit. You see both McLaren guys steering nicely to the apex. Except Max. With lewis next to him, he steers his car over the kerbs, WAY before the apex! As such, Lewis literally doesn’t have 1 inch space on the track to drive on and is forced to go off. That is extremely dirty driving for which FIA should imo give a drive through penalty. Yet they never move against dirty Max. So now you expect Max to get room from Lewis? Seriously? You can’t throw your car on someones path and say: give me room, I have right to it.

    • Linus Rosemann says:

      As long as you get half your car alongside before the corner and you can still make the corner you have the right to racing room. Thats what is written in the rules, and all drivers have an unspoken agreement that the inside driver can squeeze you of track if they are still in front after the apex, but it has to be a clear move.
      Verstappen got the car at least halfway alongside and Hamilton didnt make a dicisive move to squeeze him of track, but left just enough space that it could work. Watch the Driver61 Video in YouTube he explains it quite well and also compares it to turn 4 in lap1

  • The solution should be: When Verstappen squeezes Hamilton, Hamilton gives way and when Hamilton squeezes Verstappen, Hamilton gives way. Anything else and the FIA is biased.
    I miss the days of F1 before the Internet.

  • What I find interesting is that if the sausage kerbs weren’t there, then Max would have run slightly wide (but still within track limits) and there probably wouldn’t have been a collision.

    The reason for the collision itself is that the car got thrown into the air as an unfortunate side effect of hitting the sausage kerb. If the kerbs weren’t there then, at worst, he’d have needed to give the position back because the stewards deem it an unfair overtake/overtake off the track.

    The other issue is that the cars were at considerably different entry speeds and so can take different braking points and different lines. As it is written in the rulebook I do agree that Max was not alongside until later, however it doesn’t take into account the speed delta. Upon the actual entry to the corner – where both cars start turning – they are pretty much alongside each other. Max was going slow enough to make the corner, and Lewis left him room. If Max hadn’t been unlucky with the way his car flew up then there would never have been a collision because Lewis was still leaving him space for the corner exit.

    That is where it gets tricky to judge. No matter the outcome, it was not Lewis’ fault. However I also don’t think that it’s Max’s fault that a collision occurred either. Max saw that Lewis was leaving room and so stayed on the track instead of taking to the run off. In fact, if Max had moved closer to Lewis before the apex then it’s quite likely he’d have missed the sausage kerb entirely. Max left space to avoid contact, and in doing so inadvertently hit the kerb in a weird way.

    In my eyes it’s an unfortunate racing incident where both drivers were lucky to walk away – even with Lewis getting tapped on the head by the rear right of the Red Bull. The safety measures in place are definitely doing their job.

    However, the conduct of both drivers immediately after the incident is a little concerning. Both cars can be seen with their wheels spinning whilst they are locked together in the gravel. This is especially problematic due to the Red Bull’s proximity to Lewis’ helmet. I can understand giving Max a penalty for that, but not the crash in the first place. On the flip side, if Lewis had managed to reverse his car as Max was climbing out then that could have caused injury to him or potentially a marshall. At that point Max had already given up trying to free the car so was getting out but Lewis wanted to try and finish the race.

  • Your interpretation of “until significantly into the entry ” is different to the stewards. The stewards are saying Max came in “too hot” to have “the right to racing room” and you say different. Max recklessly dared Lewis to stay his entitled line and risk collision and Max got his answer. Perez used to do that until he tried it on with Kimi at the Monaco chicane in 2013. As Jackie Stewart said, Max needs to grow up; you can’t expect to win every corner and demand everyone gets out of your way just because you are going too fast to avoid a crash.

  • Phillip Watters says:

    That’s one of the most reasonable explanations I’ve read yet online, Freddie Coates. To me, the most important factor at play is that VER was on a racing lap and HAM was coming out of the pit on cold tires. It was HAM’s responsibility to rejoin the race safely and I don’t think he did. He took too big a risk trying to gain and keep that position. VER had every right to be there on the inside of turn 2, and had HAM just given him enough room they could have continued racing around the Curva Grande and into Variante.

  • Lewis gave Max the option to race, but max lost control going over the sausage bumps. At that point he had responsibility to bail out, because a crash was inevitable otherwise.

    • Altough max should have wanted to bail out at some point, het could not because huis front wheels were flying in the air. My problem is not the fact that Hamilton squeezed home, but the fact that he left Just about enough room to race into turn 1, but did not when max could not bail out because those sausage curbs where there.

  • The author hasn’t a clue about F1. It is a NON Contact sport AND Verstappen does NOT recognise this.

    At both Silverstone & Monza the slow motion videos clearly show Verstappen turning-in on his rival and at Monza the suggestion that the “sausage curb” caused the “take off” of the Red Bull is totally illogical – given that this would cause the LEFT REAR of the Red Bull to become airborne.

    In fact, the rear RIGHT wheel became airborne indicates that the Red Bull’s RIGHT REAR wheel was in contact with the Mercedes LEFT REAR wheel FROM Behind the Mercedes.

    At Silverstone MV clearly turned-in and he collided with Hamilton.

    MV is Unfit to drive in F1.

    • Left rear lifts, unsettles and shifts the car towards LH, causing wheel interlocking and MV to launch (see INDYCAR Las Vegas 2011)
      MV turns in to make the corner, LH turns in to make the corner but runs MV ever so slightly wide. MV looks to stand his ground, is redirected by kerb and collision ensues.
      I think you may be a delusional fanboy,

  • It is the duty of ALL F1 drivers to avoid contact of ANY kind. This is not Banger racing & Crashalot Verstappen could soon be renamed Killer Verstappen.

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