Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen crash: Jenson Button and Sky F1 pundits debate British GP drama
Sky Sports F1 pundits Jenson Button, Karun Chandhok and Damon Hill have offered their views on the hugely controversial Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crash on the opening lap of Sunday’s British GP.
The high-speed shunt, which sent Verstappen hurtling into the barriers and led to a time penalty for Hamilton, who still managed to win his home race, was the first major flashpoint between the two Formula 1 star drivers.
And it understandably stirred quite the fierce debate in the paddock.
- Max Verstappen out of hospital after crash
- Verstappen slams ‘dangerous Hamilton, ‘disrespectful’ celebrations’
- Lewis: Max too aggressive | Horner: Hamilton ‘desperate’
Verstappen and Red Bull boss Christian Horner slammed Hamilton as “dangerous” and “desperate” – while the seven-time world champion and his Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff staunchly disagreed.
But what were the views of the Sky F1 experts? Our pundits and ex-drivers Button, Chandhok and Hill had their say after the race…
Button: Hamilton had to back out of it
Button, the 2009 world champion and former McLaren team-mate of Hamilton, felt his fellow Brit didn’t quite get alongside Verstappen when he attempted the ambitious pass down the inside of the 180mph Copse corner – and didn’t quite stay to the right-hand side of the track enough.
Because of the speed the two drivers were going, Button said the move was never really going to come off.
“It’s a difficult one,” said Button, who raced in 306 Grands Prix. “Lewis was almost alongside him but that for me was not the most important part – it’s that Max left enough room.
“But at that speed, it’s very difficult on the inside to get around that corner.
“At the speed he was going, Lewis had to back out of it.
“He’s misjudged the apex, which is completely fair enough because he’s coming in at such a speed from an angle that he never has before. He has missed the apex, there wasn’t enough room for two cars.”
Button, who also competed in 17 British GPs, added: “It is unusual to put the nose in that corner. Normally you are ahead if you’re going to make a move into that corner. That’s just always been the way for me.”
While marginal, Button said he understood the 10-second penalty for Hamilton.
“It’s a difficult one to have a definitive answer on who was wrong,” he stated. “I get the penalty for Lewis, because he was put someone in the wall.
“I think the awareness of Max Verstappen is fantastic, what he can do with the car, and I think that is beyond everyone else. I think that is the struggle when you’re racing him.”
Chandhok: It was a racing incident – and penalty was harsh
Chandhok analysed the incident in-depth at the SkyPad on multiple occasions on Sunday afternoon – and believed both drivers could have done more to avoid the incident.
Immediately after the crash, he said: “Lewis expected Max to back out of it, and Max expected Lewis out of it. But they’re both racing drivers, and they’re both racing for the world championship.
“Max could have given Lewis more room, and Lewis equally could have gone more to the kerb on the right-hand side.
“If you ask me, they both could have done more. I would probably put it down to a racing incident.”
After the race, Karun maintained that view.
“Even after watching it again and again and again, my personal belief is it was still a racing incident,” he explained. “I think both drivers could have avoided the accident.
“Max could have given him more room, Lewis could have backed out of it earlier and gone further to the inside. These are two hard-headed drivers who are being punchy, and feisty and aggressive on the opening lap.”
And he felt the penalty for Hamilton was harsh: “Unfortunately, I think with the way we see penalties this season, in Lewis’ case they came down a bit harder on him because they felt he should have backed out of the move, basically.
“But I personally think the penalty was a little bit harsh.
“If that had happened to two drivers battling for, let’s say 10th and 11th place, do we think they still would have had a 10-second penalty? I’m not convinced. I think five seconds, similar to what drivers got in Austria, would have been OK.”
Hill: Hamilton wasn’t going to go down without a fight
1996 world champion Hill echoed Chandhok in believing both drivers had to take some portion of the blame, commenting: “Lewis has kept it on the inside and really banked on Max backing out of it, which he didn’t do.
“But I’m sure that Max knew that Lewis was there, and he didn’t make enough an allowance for that.
“Two cars shouldn’t come together. If they were young, inexperienced drivers you’d look at that and say calm down.”
He also believed Hamilton – after losing out to Verstappen in fierce wheel-to-wheel combat earlier this season – “staked his intention” on Sunday by battling his rival aggressively and not backing out.
“We saw a level of aggression from Lewis that we haven’t seen for a while,” said Hill.
“It was a high-risk move from Lewis, and he has clearly staked his intention: He is not going to let this go without his street fighting skills, to win back his advantage.”
Hill, following Horner’s remarks about Hamilton’s win being “hollow”, added: “He scored a fantastic victory and I do not agree with Christian, it is not a hollow victory.”
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