Lewis Hamilton WAS to blame for 180mph crash with Max Verstappen at Silverstone, insists former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone… who says ‘the punishment did not fit the crime’ – but now thinks Brit will WIN the world title after regaining ‘edge’
Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton was to blame for the 180mph crash that sent Max Verstappen off to hospital during Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
The world championship contenders clashed on the opening lap at the super-fast Copse corner at Silverstone, winding the Dutchman, who then spent six hours at hospital in Coventry before being released after precautionary tests.
Hamilton went on to win the race in controversial circumstances to cut his disadvantage in the world championship table to eight points. It was his eighth win at the Northamptonshire track and by far his most contentious.
Bernie Ecclestone (R) believes Lewis Hamilton was to blame for the crash at British Grand Prix
Speaking to Sportsmail, Ecclestone said: ‘Who was to blame? You have to say Lewis.
‘In the old days we would have said it was one of those things, a racing incident. It was clear that everyone was doing his best to win the championship.
‘But if the stewards needed to get involved then they should have given Lewis more than a 10-second penalty. It should have been 30 seconds.
‘Lewis was not in front at the point they collided. It wasn’t his corner. He was almost a car’s length behind. That’s why he hit him at the back not the front.
‘Ten seconds was not right. The punishment did not fit the crime.
The world championship contenders clashed on the opening lap at the super-fast Copse
Spectators were shocked as dust flew over the fence following the fierce collision
‘If you have to give a sanction, which in some ways they didn’t need to, this was not right decision – it wasn’t enough.’
Ecclestone’s views were echoed by Verstappen’s father Jos – a veteran of 107 F1 races — who said that Hamilton should have been disqualified.
Verstappen Snr, 49, said: ‘It is really unacceptable what Hamilton did.
‘Max gave him space and was front of him. You cannot overtake on the inside of Copse.
‘A 10-second penalty is really ridiculous. As far as I am concerned they should have banned him from the race.’
Verstappen’s Red Bull team are considering a protest against Hamilton’s 10-second penalty ahead of the next race in Hungary.
Verstappen flew off the track after the incident before his car then crashed into the tyre barrier
After Hamiton’s victory at Silverstone, Mercedes are now just three points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ standings.
And it is understood Red Bull are reviewing whether to lodge an appeal against the stewards’ verdict, which they believe to be too lenient.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: ‘There are rights that are available to us. We will look at it and talk it through.’
But Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff moved to back his star driver’s reputation.
‘It is a seven-time world champion, who is defending his legacy, going up against an up-and-coming talented driver, Wolff said.
Red Bull man Verstappen was soon able to climb from the wreckage after the sickening thud
‘We have seen that in the past and it can end up in a collision. Like in many other sports, it takes two to tango.
‘There is a rule in Formula One that if the front of your car is more than halfway alongside the other car then it is your corner, and Lewis was much further ahead than that, so the other driver should have left him some space.’
F1 godfather Ecclestone, 90, said before the race that Hamilton has lost his ‘fight’.
But he now thinks the Stevenage-born racer has rediscovered his spirit as a result of Sunday’s action in front of the 140,000 crowd at Silverstone.
Hamilton controversially went on to win and cut the championship points gap to eight points
He said: ‘Lewis has got his act together and I now think he will win the title. He had lost an edge before Sunday but he did what he needed to do.
‘He has just signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes. The reason he did it was that he thought he would need an extra season or so to beat Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.
‘But I can guarantee that this incident has got his confidence back, in a way it hasn’t been there all year. He has a better chance than before. It has given him a lift and it’s back to the old Lewis.’