Red Bull adviser accuses Lewis Hamilton of exaggerating injury after Max Verstappen crash

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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton gets out of his car following a collision with Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (unseen) during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. - AFP
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton gets out of his car following a collision with Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (unseen) during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. - AFP

Helmut Marko, adviser to the Red Bull Formula One team, appeared on Wednesday night to imply that Mercedes exaggerated the extent of Lewis Hamilton’s neck injury following the crash with Max Verstappen.

After crediting his roll hoop and halo device with saving his life at the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton said on Sunday he would need to see a specialist over a potential injury to his neck. "My neck is getting tighter and tighter," he added.

However, Marko has now suggested Mercedes had deliberately made more of the incident.

"It was a normal racing accident, all the stories around it were pulled by Mercedes by the hair," he told the Austrian daily newspaper, Osterreich. "Verstappen had already got out when Hamilton tried to go back to get out of the gravel. The medical car saw that and drove on. And then a show is put on that poor Hamilton is suddenly injured, etc."

A source at Red Bull Racing told Telegraph Sport his comments were given as a personal opinion rather than on behalf of the team.

Less than two months after their high-speed coming together at Silverstone, which put Verstappen in hospital but thankfully did not result in serious injury to the Dutchman, it was Hamilton who was thanking his lucky stars on the weekend.

Fighting for position at Monza’s first chicane on lap 26, midway through the race, the two drivers bumped wheels, lifting Verstappen’s Red Bull up into the air and bringing it down on top of Hamilton’s head as both cars slid into the gravel trap.

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (R) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton collide during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. - AFP
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (R) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton collide during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. - AFP

Hamilton’s roll hoop and halo device bore the brunt of the weight, but it left him shaken, his Mercedes badly damaged and both men nursing grievances. Verstappen insisted that Hamilton had left him “no room”, launching an expletive-laden tirade over his team radio.

Mercedes, for their part, argued that Verstappen’s driving had amounted to a “tactical foul”, team principal Toto Wolff suggesting the Dutchman knew very well that if he allowed Hamilton to stay ahead he might lose the championship lead and therefore preferred not to yield.

After conducting a post-race investigation the stewards eventually sided with Hamilton, handing Verstappen a three-place grid penalty at the next grand prix in Russia for being what they described as “predominantly to blame” for the collision.

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