Max Verstappen has accepted responsibility for his collision with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in the Chinese Grand Prix.
On softer and fresher tyres after Red Bull made a strategic call to pit both its cars during the safety car period, Verstappen was closing in on Vettel for the final podium place.
On lap 43 he saw an opportunity to overtake at the Turn 14 hairpin. However, Verstappen ran out of space at the apex after locking his rear tyres, making contact with Vettel on the outside and pitching them both into a spin.
Speaking after the race, Verstappen admitted fault in the collision, “I could see he was struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late in the corners. I locked the rears and hit him – it was, of course, my fault. Not what I want.”
Losing less time in the accident, Verstappen then went on to overtake Lewis Hamilton who was also on older medium tyres, before a 10-second penalty ultimately saw him finish fifth behind the Mercedes. He has also been given two penalty points on his superlicence.
Finishing eighth after the accident, Vettel knew it was only a matter of time before Verstappen made a move.
Reflecting on Verstappen’s attempted he said, “I didn’t see him until very late so I left him a little bit of room.
“To be honest I was expecting him to come earlier as I had no intention to resist as it was clear that he and Daniel were so much faster on the fresher tyres. I didn’t want to compromise my race with the guys behind.
“He made a mistake, he locked up, it happens. We had tailwinds all race down the back straight. I guess he misjudged and it compromised both of our races. Inside the car you must not forget that the judgements are very difficult to make.”
It wasn’t the only mistake Verstappen made during the race. In an earlier attempt to overtake Hamilton he ran wide at turn 7, allowing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to get ahead.
With these incidents coming just one week after he tangled with Lewis Hamilton during the Bahrain Grand Prix, Verstappen was quick to rebuff suggestions he would need to tone down his aggression; “It is easy to comment. At the moment it is not going the way I like of course, but does it mean I have to calm down? I don’t think so.”
Even with the penalty, Verstappen finished in fifth while Vettel struggling on medium tyres was overtaken by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso to finish eighth.