Red Bull chiefs knew Verstappen in the wrong, says Mercedes

Red Bull's senior management knew from the off that Max Verstappen was to blame for his crash with Lewis Hamilton at Formula 1's Italian Grand Prix, reckons Mercedes.

Verstappen was handed a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia after the stewards deemed he was predominantly to blame for the accident with Lewis Hamilton at Monza.

Red Bull's senior chiefs Christian Horner and Helmut Marko both insisted in the aftermath of the clash that it was nothing more than a racing incident.

But for Mercedes, well aware of how much Red Bull backs its drivers in controversial moments, it says it was telling how neutral its rival was on this occasion.

Mercedes' trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: "We obviously felt strongly that Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong, and that Max was the one predominantly to blame.

"I think if you look at the fact that even Helmut and Christian weren't trying to blame Lewis, it sort of feels like they know Max was in the wrong, because they will try and blame Lewis at any opportunity."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, looks on Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 after colliding

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, looks on Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 after colliding

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Shovlin reckoned that the crash with Verstappen, which came as they both tried to recover from slow pitstops, derailed a good opportunity for Hamilton to go for victory.

"Ultimately, I think it cost Lewis a win and certainly a second place, as you'll always feel that three places is relatively easy to overcome if you've got a competitive car," he said. "But that's all in the past now.

"We need to make sure we put a good weekend together in Russia, and it's a place where the car should be competitive.

"But we've had pretty messy races for quite a long time now. The team needs to not get distracted and focus on delivering the kind of performance that we know we can, and the kind of performance that we need to, to win these championships."

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has stood by his belief that both Verstappen and Hamilton had roles to play in the crash.

"For me, having looked at it again, I felt that Max deserved a bit more space to be given at Turn 2," explained Horner.

"I think Lewis gave him enough space through Turn 1, and then into Turn 2, then it just felt he could have given him a bit more room to work with.

"I'm sure the other guy will argue it the other way. But I think, when you look at it objectively, you have to say, it is a racing incident."

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