Sure, it would have been more original had they managed to fight a whole season without colliding – but such expectations were probably unrealistic, especially given the intensity of the increasingly toxic battle that has erupted between their teams. They have simply been fighting for the same piece of track too often to avoid each other.
But it’s their actions yet to come that will really count. Verstappen avoided serious injury at Silverstone, Hamilton had luck and the halo on his side at Monza – so what will be the story next time? Just five points separate them at this point. Nothing much has been lost, it’s all still to play for – and on the face of it there really doesn’t have to be a next time. But that old black hole has got them in its grip. The stewards and their penalties won’t be much of a deterrent and pep talks from their team bosses, who have a duty to cool rising temperatures when the need arises, will probably only go in one ear. It’s all down to Hamilton and Verstappen themselves on what happens next, at Sochi this weekend and beyond, all the way to Abu Dhabi in December.
But for all that gravitational pull, fate isn’t a thing – they have a choice. Then again, do they? The next time Verstappen hustles Hamilton into a corner, will Lewis make extra room in the interests of the bigger picture and after what has gone before? Verstappen surely wouldn’t, being the uncompromising man he is. These guys live on their instincts and in the moment. They know their own capabilities, how far they are willing to go and the total commitment that is required to win what is an utterly gripping and enthralling championship battle. They can’t or won’t resist. Whichever you pick, it’s likely to happen again.
We’ll always remember this one. But when it comes to the crunch, the telling moment that decides it, let’s hope we’ll remember it for the right reasons. So which way will it be, chaps? It’s all in your hands.