The Monza win was massive for Daniel Ricciardo. His problems this year at McLaren were just starting to chew away at him and you could see he was thinking ‘what do I need to do?’ The weird thing is he’s been struggling with braking and Monza is the worst place for that! I actually think Lando Norris’s gaming background has been beneficial on this one. I never thought I’d say that, but Lando seems to have an extra sixth sense for when the car becomes loose and how it rotates in the braking zone, which I think comes from his virtual gaming. It’s taken Daniel longer to adjust in the real world, but good on him for sticking with it. It just proves, don’t give up.
It will be interesting to see how Lando deals with it now because suddenly he’ll have a team-mate on form and probably consistently so, which Daniel always was before. I’m sure Lando was thinking ‘dammit’ finishing second, but he is a team player. The biggest plus is for McLaren. There’s a long way to go for the team, but it did have a good car all weekend and it’s great to see that name back on the top step.
Aside from the McLaren feel-good factor, we also had the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Italy. When considering such moments I always put my helmet back on, so to speak. Max absolutely had a right to give that move a go. But under braking going into that chicane as Lewis came out of the pits he’d have known there was a good chance it wasn’t going to work out. Max judged it beautifully as they turned into the right and there was a gap there at that stage – but when they were about half way between the right and the left that gap disappeared. Drivers don’t intentionally use the big orange sausage kerb inside the left-hander because, well, you can’t at that chicane because you know the car will bounce you off the line you are on – so you never touch it! – but he could and should have gone to the left of it. Watching it back, Max was turning right so far into the corner and Lewis was taking the normal line, as was his absolute right.
“A racing mentality is a not to leave space; it’s to give as little possible”
People say Lewis should have given him room – but why? Where has this mentality come from? From when I was karting, through the junior formulas and into F1, I never expected anyone to give me a corner –I had to earn it. A racing mentality is not to give space, it’s to give the least space you possibly can to avoid getting tangled up. Beside me on Sky F1 Damon Hill alluded to Max perhaps thinking, ‘I’ll go in – if it doesn’t work out we’ll probably clash and we’ll both go off.’ There is that question, what Toto Wolff called a “tactical foul”, because he committed to a gap that wasn’t there. To me, the essence is to be hard but fair. Lewis was fair and so was Max – up until the point where he should have gone left and cut through.
The Silverstone clash was different in my opinion; both could have helped each other. On his occasion I can’t see how you can say that. Yes, Lewis could have turned right – but you’re expecting a driver to turn right when the corner goes left, to give space to the guy who hasn’t actually got room to get past? That’s Lewis’s fault?
I love Max and always have, from the moment he arrived in F1 at 17. I don’t want to dilute the way he races because I love that about him. But on this occasion I don’t think what he did was right. Also, look at what happened at the second chicane on lap one. Max squeezed Lewis, Lewis realised what was happening and cut the chicane. That was the right thing to do, and Max for me did nothing wrong with his squeeze. That’s racing.
Something that isn’t right is all these radio messages coming from drivers saying that ‘he squeezed me’, ‘he pushed me off ’. They are all going back to and are intended for the race director, Michael Masi. I hate it. I sometimes wonder, with all these rules and the emphasis on track limits, whether one day someone will try and sue another driver for losing a world title. You’ll see an ad on TV: ‘Do you feel you lost the World Championship because someone took you off ? Give us a call!’. I’ve said it before: on these written or unwritten rules for racing there needs to be a reset.
Johnny Herbert was a Formula 1 driver from 1989-2000 and a Le Mans winner in 1991. He is a regular contributor to Sky Sports F1
Follow Johnny on Twitter @johnnyherbertf1