Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll avoid penalty after Portimao P2 crash
Verstappen, Horner, Szafnauer and Sky F1 pundits react to crash which caused red flag in P2; But no further action taken by stewards
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 23/10/20 6:24pm
Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll have escaped a Portuguese GP stewards' investigation without a penalty following a crash described as "unnecessary", "ridiculous" and "careless" in Practice Two at Portimao.
The two drivers had a heavy collision at Turn One of F1's newest circuit after Verstappen attempted to pass Stroll up the inside, but as both of them were starting flying laps, neither backed out of the corner.
Stroll's Racing Point spun off the circuit, leading to a red flag, while Verstappen sustained damage to his Red Bull.
"Is this guy blind? What the **** is wrong with him?" said a seething Verstappen on team radio after the contact.
But while the incident was investigated, no further action was deemed necessary by the stewards as they ruled the crash was a "result of a misunderstanding" and that "both could have contributed to avoid the incident".
Verstappen later admitted he believed Stroll, who he had let past towards the end of the previous lap, was going to back out of the corner.
"I was so surprised," he said. "He just turned in. I was coming up to him! I don't know where I have to go, I was starting my lap and he had just finished his lap.
"It's Practice Two and it's just a shame that we touched and it was just very unnecessary."
Stroll added: "I don't think he was expecting me to be on a push lap and I wasn't expecting anyone to be racing me into Turn One."
Red Bull's Christian Horner, while adamant that Verstappen shouldn't receive a penalty as he was on the inside, told Sky F1 he believed the incident was "50-50".
"If I'm absolutely honest, you can look at it and say both had a role to play," he stated. "Max has assumed Lance was going to back out, while Lance may not have even been aware Max was there."
But an angry Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer laid the blame solely on the Dutchman.
"I think Max didn't realise we were doing two quick laps there and shouldn't have been where he was," he told Sky F1 on the pit-wall.
"Lance doesn't see him there. I haven't talked to him yet, but had he known he was there he wouldn't have turned in.
"It's just ridiculous. For what gain?
"I can assure you, 100 per cent, that Max knew Lance was there. There's no way he doesn't know Lance was there. But Lance doesn't know Max was there. It's pretty simple for me."
Who was to blame for crash? Reaction + stewards' verdict
Christian Horner, Red Bull boss
"You've got to go back to the previous lap. Lance has got to that last corner, Max has let him go because he wants to take a tow and he's assuming that Lance was finishing a lap. So he let him past, tucked up behind him, taking the advantage of the tow, assuming he's going to back out because he knows he's there and [Max] is up the inside.
"Obviously Lance for whatever reason hasn't seen him, has committed to the corner and turned in. Both of them were expecting the other to back off.
"But if that were a race, Max would have been deemed to be up the inside so therefore the car on the outside should have given way.
"If I'm absolutely honest, you can look at it and say both had a role to play. Max has assumed Lance was going to back out, while Lance may not have even been aware Max was there.
"Both sides are going to argue their case but you probably have to say it's a 50-50 and that's it."
Sky F1's Johnny Herbert
"To me, Max was already compromised because he was off-line, he was in the middle of the track. So his lap is going to be destroyed anyway.
"I don't see why Lance had to pull out of it. He's more than right to stick to his racing line because he was on a fast lap as well.
"So for me, Max should have pulled out sooner."
Sky F1's Paul Di Resta
"I would probably say Stroll should have given Max a little bit more space on the inside - because there wasn't a car width there. But in a practice session, I don't know how the stewards will look at that.
"In a race, I don't think there would be a penalty on Max's side there."
Sky F1's Anthony Davidson
"I think it was 50-50, it was a little bit careless from both drivers," says Anthony Davidson.
"I think it was an assumption from Max that he was going to be let by, and then Lance - knowing the car was there - turning in."
"But in a practice session, both parties have to take more care. It's not a race. At the end of the day, what's the big deal in Max backing out of it, or Lance letting him through. Both of them have that responsibility."
Portuguese GP stewards
'The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 18 (Lance Stroll), the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen), team representatives and have reviewed video and audio evidence.
'Stroll was on a fast lap and was allowed to pass by Verstappen on the lap preceding the incident. Given the information from his team and usual practice, Verstappen assumed that Stroll would back off for the next lap and moved to overtake along the main straight. However, Stroll was instructed by his team to go for a second flying lap.
'Stroll assumed that Verstappen would have backed off to gain a gap between them, also in line with usual practice, and so was not looking for the overtaking Verstappen.
'The drivers agreed in the hearing that the incident was the result of a misunderstanding between them and that with hindsight, both could have contributed to avoid the incident.'