As the stage is set for Round 15 of the Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen battle for the 2021 Formula 1 crown, Dr. Helmut Marko says although the two contenders do not have to be friends, there should be respect as he does not want the title decided by accidents.
Speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko summarized the VER-HAM battlefield from his team’s perspective: “In theory, we are ahead. We want to extend our lead with proper results, not to have eight collisions to save our world championship lead.”
As for preventing such incidents in the future, Marko told RTL: “On our part, we try to influence Max so that there is mutual respect and collisions are to be avoided… They’re racing drivers – when the visor is down, everything is forgotten again.
“I don’t think Max and Lewis have to be friends. They are two completely different characters. Behind them are two teams with different philosophies and approaches. It’s all a bit tense now but they don’t have to be enemies. There must be mutual respect, this will be enough ”
There was clearly scant respect when they collided infamously during the Italian Grand Prix last time out. It was simply a matter of ‘two into one does not go’ through the first Variante at Monza, but that hardly stopped them trying. The result, alas, was a Red Bull mounted on a Mercedes beached in the sand.
Blame was immediately flung both ways between camps, and their fans. Once again, much like after Silverstone the aftermath of Monza was packed with allegations of bad sportsmanship between the pair.
F1 stewards on the day disagreed and decided Verstappen was more to blame than Hamilton handing him a three-place grid drop for this Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix; Marko’s verdict on the penalty: “This is a decision of the stewards, we accept it but in our opinion, it’s a racing incident.”
As for suggestions Hamilton had been injured, Marko did not mince his words: “The whole incident was not life-threatening. If he had really serious neck pain or problems, then he would not have been in New York the next day in that funny outfit.
“There was no resolution here, that was clearly seen. If neither gives in, there is simply not enough space…” added Marko.
Verstappen leads Hamilton by five points ahead of Round 15 this weekend in Russia, at Sochi Autodrom.