Verstappen plays down Perez clash, explains Hamilton shootout incident

The Dutchman was in no mood to lay blame for the controversial first-lap incident with his teammate during the Austrian GP Sprint Race

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Max Verstappen was eager to downplay the incident with his Sergio Perez on the opening lap of the Austrian Grand Prix Sprint he dominated to extend his world championship lead.

The Dutchman started on pole but suffered with wheelspin off the line on the damp track, allowing his teammate to take the lead into Turn 1.

However, with grip lacking the Mexican got a poor exit and was at the mercy of Verstappen on the rundown to Turn 3, until he pushed the world champion onto the grass.

When Verstappen got all four wheels back on track he regained the lead into Turn 3 and then appeared to push Perez wide as the battle continued down to Turn 4, allowing Nico Hulkenberg to split the Red Bulls.

Both drivers were quickly on the team radio to question the behaviour of the other, with Verstappen particularly scathing in his assessment.

“He push me off man, what the ****,” Verstappen said in the heat of the moment.

Cooler heads prevailed in the aftermath, however.

“Yeah out of Turn 1 we had a little moment there where I had to go with two wheels on the grass, which was very slippery,” Verstappen said.

“But then yeah, got back on then braked quite late into two and three. And then it was all like, two, three wide going into four. And then we all settled in.”

Pushed on whether he thought Perez overstepped the mark, he added: “We just spoke about it because when the moment happens, of course you don’t know why it gets it gets to that.

“But then I think after the race, we talked about it, and it’s it’s all good.”

Verstappen explains Hamilton shootout incident

The Sprint wasn’t the only bit of Saturday drama Verstappen was involved in. In the earlier shootout, the Dutchman appeared to block Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of SQ1 as the seven-time world champion began his final flying lap.

It was missed initially on the broadcast but quickly picked up on social media, with some calling for the FIA to launch an investigation.

The Dutchman explained the incident from his point of view, saying: “He blocked me into the last corner so I had to break more and I lost three tenths. So that wasn’t ideal, and I think not correct.

“There was still a few seconds on the clock so I wasn’t sure that my lap time was going to be safe so I wanted to continue.

“But yeah, run out of time and space with the two cars like that, which was a bit of a shame.W

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wrighthttps://total-motorsport.com
Sports Journalist for Total-Motorsport.com
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