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Verstappen explains why he thinks Hamilton deserved bigger penalty

Max Verstappen has explained why he believes Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton deserved a “more severe” penalty for causing their British Grand Prix crash ahead of today’s FIA hearing.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2nd position, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, congratulate each other

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2nd position, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, congratulate each other

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Hamilton and Verstappen collided while battling for the lead at Copse on the opening lap of the race at Silverstone, resulting in a 51G impact with the barrier for Verstappen.

Hamilton was hit with a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision, but recovered to win the race and cut Verstappen’s championship lead down to eight points.

Verstappen and Red Bull were vocal in their criticism of Hamilton, with team boss Christian Horner calling the penalty “lenient”.

Red Bull has since submitted a request to review the case with the FIA, which will hold a hearing this afternoon in Hungary and see if new evidence is deemed substantial enough for the matter to be reopened.

Speaking about the incident for the first time in public during Thursday’s FIA press conference, Verstappen made his view clear that he “didn’t do anything wrong”.

“I fought hard, I defended hard, but not aggressive, because if it would have been aggressive I could have pushed him or squeezed him into the inside wall,” Verstappen said.

“But I did give him the space, and then I just opened up my corner and when you then commit on the inside like he did and not back out, expecting he can do the same speed on that angle that I had on the outside, you are going to, of course, crash into me.

“I’m on the outside, I'm opening up my corner and not expecting him to commit, and he understeered into the rear of my car."

Verstappen also criticised the penalty that was awarded to Hamilton, saying he did not think it “was correct”.

“Basically you take out your main rival, and especially with the speed we have with our cars, we are miles ahead of the third-best team,” Verstappen said.

“We are easily 40, 50 seconds ahead in normal conditions. So a 10-second penalty doesn’t do anything. So definitely that penalty should have been more severe.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

The stewards’ bulletin issued after the incident said that Hamilton was “predominantly at fault” for the crash, inferring that Verstappen carried some responsibility for the incident.

“I don’t know how I have a percentage in that fault,” Verstappen said.

“He goes for that move, he commits to the move. Of course I’m going to make it difficult for him to make the move. But as soon as he commits to the inside and is getting alongside me, I open up the corner, and then I’m going to leave him space.

“They don’t expect me to just completely run off the track and then just keep my position - probably they would tell you that you cannot run off the track. So from my side, a bit surprised, yeah, that there is a little bit of a percentage [of responsibility] in there.”

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Hamilton fought his way back into first place in the closing stages at Silverstone, passing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc up the inside at Copse with two laps remaining.

Verstappen said Hamilton’s move on Leclerc was “a great example that it is possible to not touch” while overtaking at that corner.

“Of course at the time he knew he had the faster car, so [it was] just a matter of time to pass,” Verstappen said.

“It does show that it is possible to go up the inside, but then back out more, slow down a bit more, and not hit the other driver.

“I think at the middle of the corner, I was actually opening up more than Charles did even. It’s a great example within the same race that it is possible to fight into that corner.”

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