Max Verstappen’s ‘human error’ pitstop had nothing to do with Lewis Hamilton crash

Christian Horner believes Red Bull’s slow pit-stop during the Italian Grand Prix did not mentally affect Max Verstappen and lead into him making an error when alongside Lewis Hamilton at Monza.

Verstappen went a lap longer than Daniel Ricciardo, aiming to pull out the overcut on the McLaren at Monza, however in an uncharacteristic mistake from the team, the Dutchman endured an 11-second pit stop due to a problem with his right-front wheel.

It meant he was thrust alongside Hamilton, as the seven-time world champion rejoined the track on lap 26, ultimately leading to the incident at the Rettifilo chicane which ended the race for both drivers.

“We had what looks like a human error,” said Horner. “We had an issue at the stop. “The wheel was done up and ready to go and unfortunately the car wasn’t released.

“It is a human error. Usually, the guys are phenomenal in the pit lane. It didn’t go their way.

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“Of course, Mercedes then messed up because Lewis should have been well clear and then they had their issue and that’s what put the two drivers alongside each other.”

Verstappen was deemed to be at fault for the accident, which saw the 23-year-old get on the kerbs at the chicane, propelling the Red Bull into the air, eventually ending up partially wedged on top of the Mercedes.

Yet, Horner was adamant any frustrations under the helmet due to the pit stop error would not have resulted in Verstappen becoming hot-headed alongside Hamilton.

“I don’t think so,” said Horner.

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“He is a racer, he got a run on the run down into turn one, into turn two, so I don’t think it affected his judgement at all.”

Verstappen was handed a three-place grid drop to be taken at the Russian Grand Prix.

Despite clear disappointment with the stewards’ decision, Horner was quick to accept the verdict.

“We are disappointed with the three-place grid penalty, but accept the stewards’ decision,” said Horner.

“We felt what happened between Max and Lewis was a genuine racing incident.

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“You can argue for both sides but ultimately it’s frustrating and disappointing to see both cars out of the race in what is proving to be an exciting championship.

“The main thing today is that the halo ultimately did its job and certainly this isn’t the way we intended to finish the race.”

Verstappen still leads the way in the championship fight heading to Russia with a five-point lead over Hamilton.

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