Yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix came to an end for championship contenders Hamilton and Verstappen when they were involved in a crash with each other on lap 26 at the Rettifilo chicane. Max’s Red Bull bounced off a kerb and mounted Lewis’s Mercedes, making them retire on the spot. After investigating the collision, stewards held the Red Bull driver responsible and handed him a three-place grid penalty for the race in Sochi.
Following the incident, both Christian Horner and Helmut Marko criticised Hamilton’s driving, the first one saying Verstappen “deserved a bit more space from Hamilton”, but ultimately felt it was a racing incident when looked at objectively.
Shovlin, Mercedes’ head of trackside operations, said they knew Verstappen had transgressed.
“We obviously felt strongly that Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong, and that Max was the one predominantly to blame,” said Shovlin.
“I think if you look at the fact that even Helmut and Christian weren’t trying to blame Lewis, it sort of feels like they know that Max was in the wrong because they will try and blame Lewis at any opportunity.”
He later added that the accident cost the Brit driver a possible win, which was Daniel Ricciardo’s in the end, who was ahead of the pair.
“If you take the incident with Max, put it to one side, for Lewis it would’ve been a race against only Daniel [Ricciardo],” he said. “And the issue in the sprint race [when Hamilton couldn’t pass Norris] was Lando had some tow from the car ahead.
“So really it would’ve been a question of whether Lewis could’ve got by Daniel.
“You know that kind of zone that Lewis goes into when there’s a win on the table and he can see it, but it would’ve been a good little battle in the end – but it would’ve needed that pass on track to turn it into a win.”
Shovlin said Mercedes have a lot to reflect on after a race they should have won, on a weekend with difficulties for both of their drivers; Lewis’s inability to pass Norris in the sprint race, followed by his race retirement and Bottas’ penalty that sent him to the end of the grid.
“It’s quite a lot to take in, really.
“I think that the sense we’re going to leave here with and reflect on tomorrow morning, though, is that we had a car that should have been first and second here and we haven’t scored that many points. So I think we need to be pretty critical with ourselves.”