Max Verstappen believes Sebastian Vettel must take blame for their sensational crash which leaves the Ferrari driver’s championship hopes hanging by a thread.
Vettel is now 28 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the race for the title after he retired from Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix following a 120mph crash with his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen.
Pole-sitter Vettel moved to the left to defend his position on the run down to turn one but Verstappen and the fast-starting Raikkonen then banged wheels before the latter thudded into his Ferrari team-mate. The stewards investigated the incident but chose to take no further action.
“It was not the smartest move and you cannot make excuses for it when you are fighting for the world championship,” Verstappen, 19, said.
“My start was a little bit better than Seb and he saw that so he tried to move to the left to squeeze me out of the line a bit. He did not know Kimi was on my other side.
“Kimi had a great start and was alongside me very quickly. He then started to squeeze me also, at which point there wasn’t a lot I could do.
“If I made a mistake myself I would be upset or angry but there was nothing I could do today. I don’t think it was a racing incident. We all lost out in the end so we all experienced some pain rather than someone making a mistake and then being able to carry on.”
Vettel and Verstappen have a chequered past following a series of on-track altercations. Vettel repeatedly swore at race director Charlie Whiting over the team radio in last year’s Mexican Grand Prix as he dramatically lost his cool when battling with the Dutchman.
Here, Vettel was rather more diplomatic and refused to be drawn on who he thought may have been at fault.
“There’s nothing we can do now,” a glum Vettel said. “It doesn’t change much. We’re not in the race now and can’t show the pace that we had. I’m sure there will be more opportunities.”
Ferrari, who were expected to win comfortably here, cancelled their scheduled post-race media briefing with both Vettel and Raikkonen.
Singapore was expected to be one of Ferrari’s strongest tracks, so to leave the Marina Bay circuit without a single point will be a bitter pill for them to swallow.
“That was very disappointing and it was definitely not the result we were expecting, but it doesn’t mean that the battle is all over, just that it has become more difficult,” Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said.
“All of us, those here in Singapore today and those working back in Maranello, we all have the Prancing Horse stamped on our hearts and we guarantee that we will be fighting right to the final corner of the very last grand prix of the year.”