Max Verstappen penalised for Saudi GP collision with Lewis Hamilton


Stewards have given Max Verstappen a 10sec penalty for his Saudi Arabian Grand Prix crash with Lewis Hamilton — but it doesn't affect his points haul

Max Verstappen bows his head after the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Max Verstappen has been given a 10sec penalty for his latest clash with Lewis Hamilton, after stewards found that he slammed on his brakes ahead of the Mercedes in a 195mph section of the Jeddah circuit.

The Dutchman was said to be “predominantly at fault” for the crash but has not lost any championship points as a result, thanks to a 21sec gap between him, when he crossed the line to finish second at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and third-placed Valtteri Bottas.

He remains level at the top of the championship table with Hamilton, who accused his rival of “brake testing” him.

Stewards called the pair to a hearing after the incident, which began when the Red Bull driver was told to hand back the lead to Hamilton as a result of passing him off track.

Lewis Hamilton hit Max Verstappen in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

The title rivals clash again: Hamilton misread the moment Verstappen slowed to let him past

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Verstappen was told to make the switch “strategically” when he was at Turn 21. Five corners later he slowed, ahead of the DRS line which would give the following car a drag advantage on the main straight.

But Hamilton had not been told of the plan. “I didn’t really understand what was going on,” he said after the race. “I was like, ‘is he trying to play some kind of crazy tactic? I don’t know’”.

The Mercedes remained behind the Red Bull, drawing closer and closer until Hamilton suddenly swerved from behind his rival — too late to avoid clipping his front wing on the rear of the car.

“Car 33 [Verstappen] slowed significantly at Turn 26,” the stewards found in their report. “However, it was obvious that neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3.

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“The driver of Car 33 stated that he was wondering why Car 44 [Hamilton] had not overtaken and the driver of Car 44 stated that, not having been aware at that stage that Car 33 was giving the position back, was unaware of the reason Car 33 was slowing.

“In deciding to penalise the driver of Car 33, the key point for the Stewards was that the driver of Car 33 then braked suddenly (69 bar) and significantly, resulting in 2.4g deceleration.”

Hamilton dropped back after the collision but was eventually let through by Verstappen at the same Turn 26. The Red Bull driver was behind the Mercedes at the DRS line, but then dived up the inside of the final corner, and had use of DRS to escape up the main straight.

Concluding their report into the earlier incident which resulted in contact, the stewards added: “Whilst accepting that the driver of Car 44 could have overtaken Car 33 when that car first slowed, we understand why he (and the driver of Car 33) did not wish to be the first to cross the DRS.

“However, the sudden braking by the driver of Car 33 was determined by the stewards to be erratic and hence the predominant cause of the collision and hence the standard penalty of 10 seconds for this type of incident, is imposed.”

It was Verstappen’s second time penalty of the race, after he was docked 5sec for gaining an advantage over Hamilton by running off track.