Saudi Arabian GP: Max Verstappen penalised for causing Lewis Hamilton collision, but stays second
Max Verstappen found "predominantly at fault" for causing collision with "erratic" braking on Lap 37 when trying to let Lewis Hamilton past; Verstappen handed 10-second time penalty, but stays second, and two penalty points on license
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 06/12/21 1:26pm
Max Verstappen has been found at fault and penalised by F1 stewards for the bizarre crash with title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian GP, deemed to have caused a collision with "erratic" braking.
Verstappen was handed a 10-second time penalty after the race, which luckily for the Dutchman keeps him in second place and means the two drivers are still level on points heading into next weekend's season finale.
He was also given two penalty points on his license.
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The championship contenders collided in peculiar fashion when Verstappen tried to let Hamilton past after being told to cede position by Red Bull, following conversations with stewards over an off-track defence earlier on Lap 37.
Verstappen was trying to "strategically" move aside before the final corner so he could get DRS down the start-finish straight, though Hamilton had not been told Verstappen was letting him past by Mercedes and was caught out by the slow speed, running into the back of the Red Bull.
Hamilton, who damaged his front wing but still managed to win the race, claimed Verstappen had "brake tested" him.
Stewards accepted both drivers could have done more but found Verstappen "predominantly at fault" for the incident, although the 10-second time penalty is ultimately inconsequential as third-placed Valtteri Bottas was 16 seconds back at the chequered flag.
In their verdict, stewards said that Verstappen broke "suddenly and significantly" - also describing it as "erratic".
It means Verstappen was handed two time penalties on Sunday, having also taken a five-second penalty for the Turn 1 incident with Hamilton.
"What happened today is unbelievable and this sport is more about penalties than racing," fumed Verstappen after the race. "For me, this is not Formula 1."
However, Hamilton insisted his rival was "over the limit". He also called the Lap 37 incident "very confusing".
"I didn't get the information," Hamilton told Sky F1. "All of a sudden he started backing up and then moving. I was like 'is he playing some sort of crazy tactic?'.
"All of a sudden messages started to come through, but he hit the brakes so hard l nearly went up the back of him. For him, it doesn't matter if we both didn't finish."
What was the Stewards' verdict?
The Stewards said that Verstappen "braked in a manner which caused a collision".
"The stewards heard from the driver of Car 33, the driver of Car 44 and team representatives, reviewed the video and telemetry evidence and determined that the driver of Car 33 was predominantly at fault," read their statement.
"At turn 21 the driver of Car 33 was given the instruction to give back a position to Car 44 and was told by the team to do so "strategically". Car 33 slowed significantly at turn 26. However, it was obvious that neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3.
"The driver of car 33 stated that he was wondering why Car 44 had not overtaken and the driver of Car 44 stated that, not having been aware at that stages 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 and significantly, resulting inn 2.4g deceleration.
"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 want to be the first to cross the DRS.
"However, the sudden breaking 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."
The story of a dramatic Saudi Arabian GP
Lap 10: Mick Schumacher crashes into the barriers and Lewis Hamilton decides to pit under the subsequent safety car
Lap 13: Schumacher's incident brings out the red flag and Max Verstappen, who now leads the race ahead of Hamilton, is able to change his tyres under the rules
Lap 15: The race is restarted from a standing start and Hamilton makes the better get away before he's run off the track by Verstappen. Sergio Perez, Nikita Mazepin and George Russell all crash out, bringing out another red flag
Lap 17: Hamilton begins in second ahead of Verstappen after being pushed off the road at the previous restart. It's Verstappen who gets off best at the next race restart as he leapfrogs Hamilton and Esteban Ocon to reclaim the lead
Lap 18: Hamilton overtakes Ocon for second
Lap 37: Hamilton and Verstappen almost collide, with the Brit forced to take evasive action after being run wide. Verstappen is given a five-second penalty later in the race
Lap 37: Verstappen is told to concede the position to Hamilton, but as the Dutchman is preparing to let him past, the seven-time world champion runs into the back of the Red Bull
Lap 42: Hamilton overtakes Verstappen before the 24-year-old reclaims the race lead
Lap 43: Verstappen lets Hamilton back through for first place
Lap 50: Hamilton takes the chequered flag to win a dramatic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as both drivers go into next weekend's season decider level on 369.5 points
Sunset Showdown: Watch Verstappen vs Hamilton decider live on Sky Sports
Level on points, one race to go and one champion to be found.
Nine months after it began, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton's gripping title duel comes down to a winner-takes-all showdown under the floodlights of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix's Yas Marina circuit.
Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1. The track action starts on Friday at 9.30am, with Sunday's title-deciding race at 1pm.
Follow all the latest updates and analysis through the week on skysports.com, the Sky Sports App and Sky Sports News, plus also stay up to speed via Sky F1's social platforms - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.