Mercedes warn the fun is over after Lewis Hamilton’s great escape from Max Verstappen shunt

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mercedes have warned the fun is over in the title fight after Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s dramatic crash at the Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for his role in the incident as both drivers were vying for the lead at Monza in an already fractious relationship between the pair.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called the Dutchman’s move “a tactical foul” in an incident in which his tyre drove over Hamilton’s head, with the seven-time world champion crediting the halo for saving his life.

After the pair’s latest coming together, Wolff said: “We don’t want to have situations in the future where one loses position, and the only way of stopping the race or stopping the other one scoring is just by taking him out.

“Both of them need to leave space for each other, race each other hard, but avoid accidents. Because it was good fun until now but we have seen a halo that saved Lewis’ life today and Max had this heavy impact in Silverstone. We don’t want to come to a situation to intervene when somebody gets really hurt.”

Hamilton criticised Verstappen for failing to check he was okay after the dramatic incident, although his title rival defended his actions saying he knew Hamilton was alright having seen him attempting to reverse his Mercedes trapped under his own Red Bull.

It launched a blame game between both teams in the aftermath. Red Bull boss Christian Horner was angered by Wolff’s suggestion the crash was tactical, brushing it off as a racing incident with both drivers to blame.

But Damon Hill, who himself was taken out by rival Michael Schumacher in his own quest for the world title, said: “I have to say looking at the re-run of Max on Lewis at turn one, there was no way he was going to make that work.

“He had to take evasive action as Lewis did in the second chicane previously to avoid an accident. So, the only conclusion is he might have been thinking ‘I have to take him out.’

“I don’t want to think that…but I think it was either an error of judgement or a calculated move to collide with Lewis, which is strong stuff. I don’t like the idea I am accusing anyone of doing that deliberately but he has got a points advantage. This was a race Mercedes was supposed to win and it has all backfired and Max has come out still with his championship lead.”

The incident overshadowed an excellent win for Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren, the team’s first since the 2012 season in Hamilton’s final year with the team.   

Watch: George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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