Toto Wolff called Max Verstappen’s crash with Lewis Hamilton at Monza a “tactical foul”, implying the Red Bull driver was to blame.
The two World Championship contenders clashed again as a slow pit-stop for Verstappen left him in the Mercedes driver’s reach when he pitted himself.
Hamilton rejoined the track almost neck-and-neck with the Dutchman, who tried to hang his Red Bull around the outside of the Briton at the opening chicane.
Ultimately, neither driver backed out and Verstappen’s car ended up climbing up Hamilton’s Mercedes – with the Halo coming to the fore again to stop the Red Bull from landing on the head of the reigning World Champion.
Wolff thought there was slightly more at play than a simple racing incident, but did not want to jump to conclusions before the stewards had reached their verdict on the crash which took both drivers out of the race.
Ultimately, they placed blame for the incident on Verstappen, giving him a three-place grid penalty for Russia.
“The stewards are going to decide who is to blame, or predominantly to blame. We’ve seen that in the past,” Wolff told Sky F1 after the race.
“But I would say it’s…in football, you’d call it a tactical foul. He probably knew that if Lewis stays ahead, that is the race [win] for him possibly.
“[Verstappen] doesn’t look like [he’s] alongside. Then you go over the sausage kerb. But if you compare it to what Lewis said at Turn 4 in lap 1, there was no space left and he was pushed off the track actually.
“But let the stewards make the judgement. I don’t want to be a panther like some of my colleagues do.
“I think at that stage, [Hamilton] was on the inside and [Verstappen] just went straight off at the sausage kerb and jumped into him.”
Lewis Hamilton on Sky F1: "He just didn't want to give way today, and he knew when he was going into (Turn) 2 what was going to happen. He knew he was going over the kerb, but he still did it. We'll speak to the stewards and see."
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There was also a dicey moment between the two on the first lap, with Hamilton taking evasive action as Verstappen defended an attack from the Mercedes at the second chicane.
Hamilton backed out with the pair side-by-side, but Wolff hopes lines will be drawn in the title battle between the two before another accident happens.
“I think, when you look at Turn 4 [on lap 1] he backed out. That was quite a thing because probably you know that [Verstappen’s] staying ahead of you,” said the Mercedes team principal.
“Then in the incident where they actually crashed, it was clear for Max in there that it would end up in a crash.
“If we don’t manage that in the right way – I’m sure the stewards will look at it in the right way – this is going to continue.
“We had a high-speed crash at Silverstone, we had one car landing on top of the other one on Lewis’ head, so how far can it go? Maybe next time we’ll have a high-speed crash and land on each other.
“If you see the car, the whole thing is damaged over the Halo and the wheel was on Lewis’ head.”