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Hamilton vs Verstappen – Why can’t Mercedes say sorry?

Crash have run a big article detailing James Allison protestations that Hamilton is innocent and they should not have been punished.

This makes me not like Mercedes and Hamilton.

Why can’t they just come out and say “sorry, we made a mistake”?

The Crash article on the Verstappen Hamilton crash is super detailed so I’ll go through it point by point.

Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison believes Lewis Hamilton shouldn’t have been penalised for his tangle with Max Verstappen on the opening lap of Formula 1’s British Grand Prix, citing the FIA’s own document which outlines the sport’s rules when racing wheel-to-wheel with another driver.

https://www.crash.net/f1/news/983499/1/mercedes-explains-why-hamiltons-british-gp-f1-penalty-was-harsh
Hamilton press conference. “He left a gap and I went for it” (with a smirk on his face)

Okay, so what exactly is the rule and how does Allison think it applies to the Hamilton Verstappen overtake at Copse (2021)?

Allison explained that there is ‘no obligation to hit the apex’ when going up the inside of another car. 

Sure, okay but there is an obligation to not crash into the other driver and put him into the wall at high speed.

the manoeuvre that took place, the manoeuvre that Lewis did was absolutely in line with the FIA’s overtaking guide

Okay, how?

If you are on the inside of the corner, overtaking on the inside of the corner, then the guidance requires that you are substantially alongside. It is not required that you are ahead, it requires that you are substantially alongside as you arrive at the corner. Lewis definitely was substantially alongside, he had his front axle well beyond the midpoint of Verstappen’s car. It requires you are substantially alongside and it requires that you must be able to make the corner.

By make the corner it means go round the corner and not leave the track or lose control of the car. 

Perhaps James Allison hasn’t see the incident because Hamilton lost control of the car with understeer and he left the track (4 wheels on the kerb).

Allison goes on

What that means is not that you have to emerge in the lead, what it means is that you do not have to cede your position, you do not have to back off and the other car has a duty to avoid hitting you.

Great. No one is disagreeing. (Verstappen didn’t hit anyone).

He continues to try and justify the move..

In the end for our outcome it didn’t make any difference but I can understand people who maybe don’t understand there is no obligation on you to hit the apex of the corner, 

Again, I don’t think anyone disagrees but there is definitely an obligation not to run another driver off the road accidentally or otherwise.

And there the article ends


I don’t think I disagree with Allison’s reading of the rules. The problem is what he quotes in the rules are not relevant to what happened.

Hamilton went for a move that was just not on.

There was no way he was going to make the corner without hitting the other driver, he was too close to the pit wall and the track was too dirty.

The move just wasn’t on.

Should Hamilton have got a penalty?

The way I read the situation is that it was a red mist incident by Hamilton, he lost his focus, lost perspective of the situation and sent it regardless of the outcome.

Is this a penalty?

Probably not, it was a racing incident and in our heart-of-hearts everyone knows everyone makes mistakes.

However what I find aggravating and what I think will incense Verstappen and other drivers in general, is that Hamilton seems incapable of saying sorry.

I think everyone could move on if Hamilton just said “it was heat of the moment, I knew I needed to pass him, I knew the move was risky but I thought there was a good chance of me pulling it off with having contact, unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way and I apologise.”

If Hamilton could just acknowledge his mistake I think everyone could move on but the attitude of defending the indefensible just gets people’s back up. Badly.

Hamilton has even weighed in on a very similar accident in France in 2018.

In this crash Vettel was in Hamilton’s shoes and Bottas in Verstappen’s

In this case Hamilton’s reading the situation is the absolute opposite of his reading of his Silverstone crash with Verstappen.

This seems typical of Hamilton, his story changes according to if he is in the right or the wrong rather than his story being a reflection of reality.

In this case Hamilton lays into Vettel in a very disrespectful way.

The striking difference with Vettel in the Vettel-Bottas crash in France is Vettel was gentlemany enough to say it was not Bottas’s fault in any way.

Hamilton could learn a lot from Vettel.


And on the subject of apologies, god knows there have been some colossal mistakes in NASCAR at Talledega and Daytona which have led to some absolutely massive crashes which has taken half the field out.

A great example of a great driver (Truex) taking responsibility

What you don’t see in NASCAR is drivers causing accidents and then saying “it wasn’t my fault” or “the rules say I can do that”

What you see in NASCAR is drivers saying “I went for a gap that wasn’t there, I made a mistake and I’m sorry for ruining everyone’s race.”

As racing drivers we understand how this can happen. We can forgive.

What we can’t forgive is a driver not accepting the blame.

What we can’t accept is a driver refusing to learn from their mistake.

What we can’t forget is that driver will do the exact same thing again because he thought he was right the first time.

And that is absolutely infuriating.

Drivers not learning from mistakes where they put other drivers in danger is beyond frustrating, it creates anger and resentment. It creates grudges.

For the fans, a grudge match makes excellent television, for the drivers concerned, I think they would rather not have it but if the driver in the wrong can’t or won’t admit it then he must be taught a lesson at some point in the future.

This page was last modified Jul 21, 2021 @ 8:53 pm

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