Lauda: Verstappen ’70 per cent to blame’

Date published: April 30 2018

Niki Lauda was fuming at the Baku marshals for not clearing all the debris, ruining Valtteri Bottas’ race, while saying Max Verstappen is “70%” to blame for Red Bull’s drama.

Bottas was leading the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when the Safety Car was brought out for Verstappen’s collision with Daniel Ricciardo.

Handed a free pit stop, the Mercedes driver held onto P1 and looked set to win his first grand prix of this season.

That, though, came to naught when his tyre blew after he ran over a fist-sized chunk of debris from the earlier collisions, which included Romain Grosjean hitting the wall behind the Safety Car.

“Why didn’t they clean up the circuit properly?” Laude told Sky Sports.

“There was so much time to do it so for Bottas it’s a disaster.

“The Safety Car was out forever, why did nobody pick [the debris] up?

“Valtteri did everything absolutely perfect and could have won easily after the restart.”

The Austrian, a non-executive director with Mercedes, also weighed in on Red Bull’s drama.

Verstappen and Ricciardo retired in Baku as the Aussie went to attack his team-mate only for Verstappen to block resulting in Ricciardo rear-ending him.

“It’s a disaster and we had it once [at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix],” said Lauda.

“For me, it is 70 percent Verstappen and 30 percent Ricciardo.

“He was moving on him all the time, where can the poor guy go?”

Lauda says he would also make the drivers pay for the damage.

“I would bring them in the office together with Toto and tell them how much less they will get paid because of the damage they have done.

“Really. We thought about this once but we didn’t have to do it.”