Formula One: Red Bull blame Verstappen's slow Monza pitstop on FIA change

Red Bull's Max Verstappen (right) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton collide during the Italian grand prix.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen (right) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton collide during the Italian grand prix.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Red Bull have blamed Max Verstappen's fatefully slow Italian Grand Prix pitstop on human error resulting from a technical directive issued by Formula One's governing body.

The 11-second stop in last Sunday's race at Monza dropped championship leader Verstappen into a position where he and Mercedes title rival Lewis Hamilton went wheel to wheel and collided, retiring on the spot.

Verstappen was held to be predominantly to blame and collected a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia.

"There was a rare human error in our pit stop, as a result of the new Technical Directive but nonetheless something we need to learn from," Red Bull boss Christian Horner said in a column on the team website on Friday (Sept 17).

"That slow stop put Max out of synch from where he should've been on track. Mercedes compounded that situation as they faltered with their own stop on Hamilton's car, which meant both drivers were neck and neck."

He did not give a further explanation but the FIA directive, which came into effect in August, aimed to slow pitstops for safety reasons by preventing the use of any automated systems.

Red Bull had complained in June that the directive was aimed at reducing their advantage.

The team hold the record for the quickest F1 pitstop at 1.82 seconds and had regularly managed to change all four tyres in less than two seconds.

Red Bull's smart wheelguns previously automatically relayed a signal to the mechanic on the front jack as soon as all four wheels were on and tightened, according to the website www.the-race.com.

It said mechanics pressed a button, even before starting to tighten the wheels, but now had to wait until the change was finished. If the button is pressed prematurely, no signal is sent and the procedure has to be repeated.

The collision meant Verstappen left Monza with a five point lead over Hamilton, gaining two points from Saturday's experimental sprint qualifying.

Horner said he still felt both drivers were to blame for the incident and "if the FIA wanted to make a statement, they could've imposed the same penalty on both."

He said Verstappen's penalty would not be such a great handicap for Sochi, however, because of the aerodynamic 'tow' cars can collect on the long run to the first corner.