Andrew Shovlin has given details about why Lewis Hamilton crashed into Max Verstappen during the Saudi Arabian GP.
Sunday’s race in Jeddah was filled with controversial moments, the most notable being Hamilton’s collision with Verstappen on lap 37. The Red Bull slowed down to give back the first position after gaining an advantage by cutting a corner. The race director Michael Masi gave these instructions to Red Bull, but Mercedes failed to alert Lewis Hamilton before the exchange of positions occurred.
Therefore, Hamilton was caught unaware when his championship rival slowed significantly. In the confusion, Hamilton clipped the back of the Red Bull, causing debris to spray across the circuit.
Mercedes revealed that Hamilton had not yet been informed that Verstappen was told to concede the position. The Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin feels it was understandable that Hamilton accidentally clashed with Verstappen due to certain circumstances.
“We didn’t have time to get on to Lewis and he wasn’t expecting it,” Shovlin explained.
“And looking at the video in-car you can see why Lewis had a problem with it, because Max was right in the middle of the track that is almost exactly three cars wide. He had no way of knowing whether Max was going to left or right.”
“Max stayed very central and braked hard, and Lewis was at around 50 bar of brake pressure, and later on the car was on the braking limit trying not to go into the back of Max. It was all he could do to stop it.”
Verstappen selected the stretch before the final corner to give the position back to Hamilton. This way, the Dutchman could use DRS to get him back down the main straight. However, Shovlin considered this as an odd decision.
“It is just not where anyone would expect someone to let them go by, and if you are letting your teammate go by we all know how you do that.”
“If you are giving up a position it shouldn’t be materially different to that. You have to relinquish the position.”