Formula One’s current leading outfits Mercedes and Red Bull have a very different opinion on what has happened between Alexander Albon and Lewis Hamilton in the dying stages of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Just as in Brazil last year, Lewis Hamilton and Alexander Albon did not need too much time while battling to end their fight in a nasty crash. Following the third and last safety car, Albon applied pressure on Hamilton on his fresh soft Pirelli tyres.
Although the reigning world champion defended his position in Turn 3, the Thai-British driver made good use of his 25 laps younger tyres in the following corner, braking much later to attack Hamilton around the outside. However, the duo tangled, with Albon dropping right down the order while Hamilton has been given a 5-second penalty, dropping him from second to fourth at the flag. The six-time world champion has also been given two penalty points for the collision.
Speaking to the media after the race, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has confessed that „today was a bad day for Lewis and a bad day for the team.”
The Briton’s day got off badly after Red Bull asked the FIA to review an incident involving Lewis Hamilton that saw the Briton fail to slow down for yellow flag on his final qualifying lap.
"Obviously the three grid position penalty that he got in the morning, with Red Bull digging out a different camera angle, you have to take it on the chin, and it is what it is,” Wolff added.
Reflecting on the race incident between Albon and Hamilton, the Austrian indicated that „in my opinion, [the penalty] not justified.
"Then in the race, I would definitely say, from my perspective, the five seconds were too harsh. We looked at the video now a couple of times. Lewis was having full lock in the corner. Albon had about 40% of the road left to make the corner and it was different to lap one: where Lewis had to back out of Albon pushing Lewis.”
Although Hamilton received a five-second time penalty for causing the clash, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said it was no remedy for Albon as he lost another opportunity of grabbing a podium finish.
"At the re-start Alex passed Lewis and inexplicably for the second time in three races Lewis has hit him and taken him out of the race. It was clearly a mis-judgement by Lewis which he received a penalty for but that still cuts deep for Alex.”
When comparing their clash in today’s race with the incident that happened in Brazil last year, Albon said that he felt Hamilton was to blame for today’s tangle as he was already ahead of the Briton.
“I feel like this one, I wouldn’t say it hurts more but I felt like Brazil was a bit more 50/50. I felt like [today] I did the move already. I was kind of already focused on Bottas in front. It was so late, the contact. I think there’s always a risk of overtaking on the outside but I gave as much space as I really could, I was on the edge. I thought if I give him as much space as I can give him, it was up to him if he wants to crash or not and yeah…”
Hamilton has accepted the penalty for the clash but felt sorry for the way his day has evolved after showing very promising pace in the first stint of the race.
“It was a bit odd today, to all of a sudden get the [grid] penalty but that didn’t destabilise me, it just encouraged me to go out and drive as best I could - and I feel like I did.
“Obviously I had great pace to catch up with Valtteri and then a really unfortunate situation with Alex. I can’t believe we came together again. It really felt like a racing incident. But either way I’ll take whatever penalty they feel I deserve and move forward,” Hamilton concluded.