Max Verstappen had no intention of making the corner at Turn 4 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, and probably wouldn’t have minded if he and Lewis Hamilton had crashed.
That’s the opinion of former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
Verstappen courted controversy last time out at the Interlagos circuit when he ran deep at Turn 4 on lap 48 as Hamilton tried to pass him for the lead.
Rather than a risk a crash, the Mercedes driver went even wider than the Red Bull, both drivers off the track.
The stewards declared at the time that there was no need to investigate it, however, Formula 1 is now awaiting the verdict of a right to review hearing that Mercedes requested.
Montoya reckons it was a deliberate move, and one that Verstappen would not have objected if it had ended in a crash.
“My honest opinion, the way I think Max looks at it is: if they crash he gains points,” Montoya said on ‘This Week with Will Buxton’ podcast. “As long as Lewis doesn’t finish ahead of him, he’s in a better situation for the championship.
“Lewis was alongside him and cleared him in the braking zone. There was no way as late as he braked he was gonna make the corner. I don’t think he had much of an intention of making the corner.
“I don’t have anything against Max. I actually really like Max and Red Bull, and they’ve done an amazing job to bring the fight to Mercedes. But I think they’re being surprised of how good Mercedes was.”
He added: “I think Lewis was really smart not to even try to turn in, because Max was going for the crash.
“It was a little bit of a return move at Silverstone. Yes, it’s a lot slower corner, but the precedent was kind of the same thing.
“He missed the apex. Look how Lewis got criticised for the crash in Silverstone – a really fast corner – because he missed the apex. Max didn’t even try to make the corner.”
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Hamilton later did overtake Verstappen, racing to the win and reducing the Red Bull driver’s advantage in the title race to 14 points with three races remaining.
That could be slashed even further on Friday depending on the stewards’ ruling.
Montoya feels this year’s Formula 1 stewards have been far too inconsistent, saying if it was someone such as Nikita Mazepin, they would have immediately slapped him with a penalty.
“In Austria, when people were going side by side and the guy in the outside wasn’t given enough room in the corner, because there was gravel, they were penalised, the guy in the inside,” said the Colombian.
“And here that guy drove him completely off the race track. How do you justify [it]?
“Why is Max getting away with this and some other guys don’t? I mean, are they applying the rules the same for everybody? Or is Max getting treated different because he’s young or whatever you want to call it?
“I’m gonna put another name out there. If Mazepin did that would he then been penalised?”