F1 boss Brawn sees no let-up in Lewis-Max tussle

LONDON • The title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen is likely to stay full on to the end of the season despite the pair crashing into each other at Monza, Formula One boss Ross Brawn said on Monday.

Italian Grand Prix stewards deemed Red Bull's championship leader Verstappen was at fault for Sunday's collision and handed the Dutchman, who leads Hamilton by five points with eight races left, a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia on Sept 26.

Brawn, a former Honda and Mercedes team boss and former Ferrari technical head, said fans were sure to be split on who was to blame.

"It's clear both drivers could have avoided it," he said in his regular post-race column on the official www.Formula1.com website.

"Ultimately, I think it's another consequence of two guys going head to head and not wanting to give an inch.

"Personally, I wouldn't say it has changed the dynamic. You've got two cockerels in the farmyard at the moment and we are seeing the consequence of it.

"I don't think either will back off at any moment for the rest of the year but I hope the championship is won on the track not in the barriers or the stewards' room."

Sunday's clash was the second big one between the two in the space of five races after earlier wheel-to-wheel incidents.

At the British Grand Prix in July, Verstappen crashed at speed and ended up in hospital for checks while Hamilton went on to win in front of his home fans.

That race, like Monza, followed an experimental Saturday sprint qualifying race and Brawn saw "plenty of positives".

"It shook up the order and led to a slightly evolved grid, which in turn created a different dynamic in the race," he said.

"I think it offers a lot - and we still have a track to try it on. Then we'll make an objective assessment and work out a way forward."

Brawn added the Italian GP also delivered "the strongest ever weekend streaming numbers we've ever seen on our OTT (over-the-top) platform F1TV".

Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen said on Monday that he will be back in action in Russia after missing the last two Formula One races because of Covid-19.

The 2007 world champion with Ferrari, who turns 42 next month and is retiring at the end of the season, posted a picture on Instagram with the caption: "I am all good. See you at the next GP."

Aston Martin have also started work on a new F1 factory and wind tunnel that team owner Lawrence Stroll said underpins his commitment to the sport and aim of fighting for world championships in the next three to five years.

The Canadian billionaire told reporters the Silverstone factory and "campus" would cost £150 million to £200 million (S$372.6 million) and be the most sustainable in the sport.

The facility over the road from the British GP circuit is expected to be completed by late next year or early 2023 with room for 1,000 people.

McLaren's Norman Foster-designed headquarters at Woking, which opened in 2004, was the most recent new F1 factory to be built in Britain.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline 'F1 boss Brawn sees no let-up in Lewis-Max tussle'. Subscribe