Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen (R) and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sportskeeda

The Austrian Grand Prix turned into a battleground where arch-rivals Red Bull and Mercedes locked horns, both on and off the track. Things started heating up prior to the race when both sides’ champion drivers, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, engaged in a war of words. While Hamilton called for FIA intervention to end Red Bull’s dominance, Verstappen snapped back by calling the Briton a hypocrite.

The fight escalated during a sprint shootout wherein both drivers were seen blocking each other’s way. First, Lewis Hamilton impeded the Dutch driver, which apparently left the latter furious. In the next lap, Verstappen was seen impeding Hamilton, which the Mercedes team principal called it an “act of revenge.” Let’s break down the whole chain of events to understand what unfolded on the track.


Toto Wolff Accuses Verstappen Of Committing “Revenge Foul” To Ruin Lewis Hamilton’s Lap Time

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Irish Mirror

The whole incident broke out during the sprint shootout (qualifying session for the sprint race) on Saturday. In the final lap of SQ1, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton blocked Max Verstappen’s flying lap, which apparently cost him four-tenths of seconds. It looked like a clear case of impeding, but Red Bull did not lodge an official complaint. Hence, Hamilton escaped a penalty. Team principal Toto Wolff later clarified that the British driver did not do anything on purpose. There was a communication gap as the race engineer failed to warn him of Verstappen’s arrival. Hence, it was a genuine mistake from Mercedes’ end, which the team boss accepted gracefully.

However, Toto went on to accuse Max Verstappen of pulling out an act of revenge. For context, in the very next moment of Lewis Hamilton’s impeding incident, the Red Bull driver impeded Hamilton on turn 1, which ruined the latter’s lap. Silver Arrows team principal called it an intentional act but yet chose not to act against it. Both the drivers escaped a penalty since Red Bull and Mercedes both failed to lodge an official complaint to stewards. Wolff said that since they made the mistake first, the team chose to ignore it. However, Verstappen seemingly denied the accusations and explained his side of the story.

Max Verstappen Breaks Silence On Impeding Incident With Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen lost victory to a late puncture on Sunday. Getty/Clive Rose

A lot has been said about the impending incident that broke out between champion drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. After Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff leveled serious accusations of deliberate impeding on the Dutch driver, the latter broke his silence on the matter. He said that it was Hamilton who blocked him first in the last corner of the final lap. Due to reduced space between the cars, he had to brake a lot more, which led to a heavy loss of time.

Max Verstappen termed the incident “incorrect” and “shame.” Regardless, it ended well for the Red Bull driver as he won the sprint race, whereas Lewis Hamilton could only get as close as P10. Overall, it’s hard to determine if any of the drivers deliberately attempted to impede one another. After all, it was a sprint shootout, which now has no impact on Sunday’s main race due to the new format. So going hard against each other for no reason does not make a lot of sense. Nonetheless, Toto Wolff expects the issue to be raised during the next drivers’ briefing, which will give more clarity.