Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s British GP clash could ignite a crash-strewn rivalry such as Alain Prost versus Ayrton Senna, says Rubens Barrichello.
This year’s championship has seen Red Bull’s Verstappen come to the fore, the 23-year-old challenging Hamilton for track position, race wins and the World title.
While they had several close calls in the build up to the British Grand Prix, it was Silverstone that witnessed the big one.
The two collided on the opening lap as Hamilton tried to sneak up the inside of the Red Bull, went wide of the apex and touched Verstappen’s rear wheel, sending him hurtling into the barriers. It was a huge one, 51G.
The consequences of the clash on the day were Verstappen was taken to hospital for checks, cleared later that night, and Hamilton won the race, in doing so closing the gap to just eight points in the title race.
There could be more to follow, though, with Barrichello likening the rivalry to Prost versus Senna, the latter famously ramming into title rival Prost at the first corner at the 1990 Japanese, taking both of them out of the race.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, former F1 driver Barrichello said: “Many people ask: would the boss (Senna) have taken his foot off? Neither outside nor inside.
“What Prost did to him in the past [1989 Japanese GP], made him take it and then catapult it forward.
“That’s what will happen now.
“They’re two geniuses, we’re not calculating whether Hamilton is better than the boss (Senna), we’re just showing that that’s exactly what made Ayrton go at Japan.
“He said ‘Are you going to make me drop it on this side here? So, hope you’ll see, I’m not taking my foot off for anything’.”
Weighing in on Sunday’s clash, the former Ferrari driver feels Hamilton’s penalty was too lenient. He also says the Mercedes driver, a “million time champion” should have thought a bit more about the scenario that was in play.
“For me, I would blame Hamilton and not give the 10 seconds,” he said. “The punishments are: 5 seconds, 10 seconds, drive through and so on, there’s more. I would give more than 10 seconds, because the 10 seconds, with the race he had, he had a chance to win, although Leclerc was in a race that looked like he was unbeatable.
“Verstappen is 23 years old, here comes a guy who is a million times champion. It’s almost inevitable to imagine that he’s the one who has to think (about not hitting) because the 23-year-old won’t think.
“The accident would only have been more elaborate so it didn’t happen that way if Hamilton hadn’t gone up.
“We are talking about two geniuses: Hamilton and Verstappen. Verstappen is the one that in the future will be able to break all the records of this Hamilton. They are two people above the average.”