Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was unaware his car made contact with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at the race start, with the two discussing their starts.
Verstappen confessed to misjudging his braking in the first turn at the start of F1 Imola GP, the Dutchman running wider than intended in the opening lap and forcing Hamilton off the circuit where he received minor damage to his front wing.
It was a quick start, Verstappen explains, that enabled this chain of events: “I had a good launch so I was just gaining speed, speed, speed, but then you go to turn two and it’s a bit difficult to judge your braking point, with the cold tyres,” he began.
“You don’t want to out-brake yourself because this track, it’s easy to damage your car and we went in to turn two of course, side-by-side but it’s difficult to expect the grip on the first lap. I also ended up a bit wider than I wanted and then Lewis was also there but at one point these yellow sausages to yeah. Then I saw Lewis had to go over them,” he added.
Hamilton says his race start was dissatisfactory, maintaining good control but slipping behind competition. The Brit says he had to avoid Verstappen in turn two, causing damage he was thankful was limited to the endplate.
“I didn’t get a good start,” Hamilton began. “Max got a better start than me and then I think I was slightly ahead going into turn two but I was basically avoiding us coming together. Max was just coming and coming and coming across. Of course, we had that touch and I had to use the exit, take those big kerbs but I’m grateful I just got it through it and didn’t damage much more than the endplate.”
Hamilton making note of damage was a surprise to Verstappen – just after the race in the press conference – who inquired, “We touched?”. After confirming it with the Brit, the Dutchman remained unconvinced: “Alright. From my… I didn’t think we touched so I don’t know. I need to watch the video again.”
Here’s the full video of the overtake: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2021/4/2021_Emilia_Romagna_Grand_Prix__Verstappen_overtakes_Hamilton_at_race_start.html
Here’s George Russell apologising for Imola incident and aftermath
Here’s the whole from George Russell, Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas