Who was to blame, how the stewards made their decision, and what we'd like to see come of this.
Formula 1 remains the biggest motorsport competition in the world. Traveling from one beautiful location to the next, the sport has captivated young and old alike. But it captivates nobody more than the drivers, and sometimes, those drivers tend to let the red mist descend and, in the heat of the moment, a bad decision can result in a scary crash. That's what we saw last weekend at the Monza Grand Prix in Italy when Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas came together with Red Bull Racing Honda's Max Verstappen. But who was at fault, and how can such crashes be avoided in the future?
As you can see, it was quite a hairy crash for both drivers, and as you'd imagine, neither driver wants to take the blame for what happened. The crash comes as Verstappen currently leads the title charge to Hamilton in second, and both drivers have come together earlier in the season too. On the last occasion, Verstappen was ahead and got pushed off the track, with Hamilton able to continue while Red Bull's driver suffered a crash registering a whopping 51G. So there's clearly some pent-up anger and resentment between the two rivals.
What made things worse was that Red Bull had slowed Verstappen earlier in the race with an uncharacteristically long pit stop, so Verstappen was pushing harder than he might otherwise have been. On this occasion, however, Hamilton was marginally ahead and, according to the stewards, this meant that Verstappen was "predominantly to blame for the incident."
Verstappen fans will point out that Hamilton could have given Verstappen more space, but the fact remains that on this occasion, Hamilton had every legal right to shut the door on Verstappen. As you can see from the images above, Verstappen's Red Bull hit the sausage curbs, causing his car to lose grip and bounce into the path of and onto the Mercedes of Hamilton.
Thankfully, the halo device that was implemented a few years back on all F1 cars did exactly what it was meant to and saved Hamilton from serious injury or worse. It goes to show that the safety efforts employed in F1 really do save lives and make the sport safer for all, and were this crash to have happened a few years earlier, we may have been writing an obituary piece right now.
But how do we prevent future crashes like this? Well, the stewards will have to maintain a strict and even playing field by imposing the same sorts of penalties across the board. In the 51G crash at the British Grand Prix, stewards deemed that Hamilton only deserved a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, despite the severity of the crash. By contrast, Verstappen's overeagerness at Monza was met with a seemingly harsh three-place grid penalty for the next race. The only way to try to minimize the seriousness of future entanglements is, in our opinion, to apply the same level of harshness to all drivers, no matter who they are. Regardless of what happens next, the main thing is that all parties involved are alive and well, and the most exciting championship battle of almost a decade can continue.