McLaren’s first victory and double podium in donkey’s years was overshadowed by the fallout between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen who crashed out of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix. The championship rivals collided at the Rettifilo chicane on lap 26. Chicane’s, by design, are meant to slow cars down. Because the typical chicane is narrow, it’s often advisable not to overtake unless the opponent has significant braking or straight-line speed advantage. Max Verstappen had neither when he made a daring overtake on Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver had just exited the pits on fresh rubber, his tyres yet to reach race temperature. Verstappen who had pitted one lap earlier was up to racing speed and decided to attempt an overtake on Hamilton in the run-up to turn 1, (Rettifilo).
Verstappen was not alongside Hamilton at any point during the attempted overtake, and as the corner tightened, he was still not ahead as the apex approached. Instead of opting to bail out, he continued without purpose other than to bang wheels with Hamilton. Unsurprisingly the wheels touched launching and flipping the Red Bull sideways into the air. The Red Bull Honda then bounced onto and over the Mercedes roll hoop and Halo, the left rear wheel bouncing on top of Hamilton’s crash helmet. The two ended up in the gravel trap, entangled like two predators fighting to the death.
Luckily Hamilton suffered no serious injury other than a sore neck but it could have been so much worse. Thankfully the Halo did its job of protecting the driver. Nevertheless, race stewards subsequently penalised Verstappen for the incident with a grid drop of 3 places for the next race.
Bizarrely SkyF1 and it’s so-called expert analysis blamed Lewis Hamilton for the incident, specifically Paul Di Resta and Martin Brundle. Watching Di Resta’s analysis was like watching revisionist history in the making. It was simply idiotic because the evidence was there, yet to the contrary Di Resta still blamed Hamilton. WTAF?
The biggest disappointment was Martin Brundle who also inexplicably blamed Hamilton. Brundle said:
“Lewis left him a car’s width on the way in. Max has earned the right to some space there.”
“If you are going to argue anything, Lewis didn’t leave him a car’s width around the outside.”
“Max was almost fully alongside from what you can see from that angle [on the TV replay].”
Brundle, by his own admission, clearly stated Verstappen was not ahead at any point during the attempted overtake. Using Brundle’s argument, Hamilton was ahead and earned the right to defend fairly, which he did. Did he make it difficult? Of course, Verstappen would have done the same and has done so on multiple occasions. Max Verstappen does not have the ‘Karen’ privilege or expectation to be given room, be it from Hamilton or any other driver. Verstappen has to work out how to overtake, and he has to make the correct decision at the correct moment. He is an experienced racer, a multiple Grand Prix winner.
At the 2021 Italian Grand Prix Verstappen lacked basic racing etiquette and common sense. The issue is Verstappen knew what he was doing, he was too aggressive when he needed to play the percentage game. After all, Verstappen had an initial tyre advantage over his rival which he could have capitalised upon into the next corner. But it seems he was either out of his mind or out of his depth because at the end of the day he can not win the championship by crashing his rival out of every race.
For Martin Brundle to blame Hamilton was a bizarre moment, it didn’t fit into any narrative. We can only speculate Sky Sports is attempting to “Fox News” Formula One coverage by blaming the black guy for the white guy aggression. Maybe SkyF1 is thinking of the TV and online ratings and mechanical Ad revenue they can milk out of Max Verstappen fans. By blaming Hamilton for Verstappen’s failures and moment of madness is possibly an attempt to keep hold of Verstappen’s key demographic and their monthly Sky membership.
Thankfully Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert called out their SkyF1 colleagues by disagreeing with Di Resta and Brundle’s version of events. Brundle who is often the voice of reason wasn’t on this occasion. It looked like the white guy blaming the innocent black guy for causing white guy aggression. In other words, on this day Brundle turned into a F1 Karen.