Spanish Grand Prix – Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen says that Kimi Raikkonen was not to blame for the contact that resulted in both drivers retiring from the race.
The two protagonists for the race win at the same circuit in 2016 were locked in battle on approach to the first corner on Sunday, vying with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas over the third to fifth positions. With Bottas glued to the inside line, Raikkonen was directly alongside with Verstappen on the outside. When the Mercedes understeered gently into the side of the Ferrari at the apex, Raikkonen’s car was pitched across the track, colliding with Verstappen and forcing both across the escape area. Both cars were critically damaged, with Raikkonen stopping on track and the Dutch driver making it back to the pits.
“An unfortunate start to the race which ultimately finished it also. I tried to go around the outside as there was plenty of room there.” explained Verstappen after the race. “If Valtteri had not touched Kimi, we all would have had enough room to get through that corner. Due to the contact it meant Kimi lost control and slammed into me, but it wasn’t his fault. Sometimes you have a bit of luck, like last year, sometimes you don’t as we can see this year. It was shame to not be able to take part in the race after the incident as I think with this weekend’s upgrades it could have been fun and we could have got a good result.”
Raikkonen left Spain with zero points as a result of the collision, and was forced to watch on as teammate Sebastian Vettel fought with Lewis Hamilton for the race win. The Finn said there was nothing he could have done to prevent the collision with Bottas, and said he considered himself to have left enough room for all three to get through the corner:
“I made a good start, but on the main straight I got blocked once by Bottas. I chose to lift and go a little bit on the left to leave him space, but, I don’t know how, he hit me on the right rear corner , my car jumped and I end up going into Verstappen. There was nothing me or Max could have done, when you get hit from behind in that way there’s no way to avoid the collision. I’m pretty sure Valtteri had enough space. Unfortunately my race ended there. Obviously it’s very disappointing, we had been running quite well all weekend and I was happy with the behavioUr of the car.”