The FIA stewards found that Valtteri Bottas was guilty for the first corner crash that brought Sergio Perez’s and Lando Norris’ race to an end and caused significant damage to Max Verstappen’s car.
The incident happened on the opening lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver got off the line poorly which enabled Verstappen, Perez and Norris to overtake him. In desperation, the Finn got his braking wrong into Turn 1, crashing into the back end of Norris’ McLaren and pushing the Briton into the sidepod of Verstappen. The Finn then also collected Sergio Perez which forced the Mexican into retirement as well.
As Perez and Norris retired, Verstappen could continue with a car that was aerodynamically badly damaged in the collision. After reviewing the video evidence, the stewards found the 31-year-old wholly responsible for the incident. As a result of it, Bottas was handed a five-place grid drop penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix while he also received two penalty points on his super license, bringing his total for the last 12 months to four.
“Immediately after the start, in the braking zone to turn 1, car 77 collided with the rear of car 4. The Stewards took into consideration the track conditions however the driver of car 77 was fully to blame for the collision,” read the FIA statement.
Commenting on the incident, Bottas said: “I had a poor start. Wheelspin off the line, and lost places, and then braking into the first corner I was right in the gearbox of Lando and I just locked the wheels. So probably being that close I didn’t calculate quite right the braking point, locked two wheels, hit him, and then it was a mess.”
SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED (LAP 1/70)— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2021
Bottas gets a slow start and rear-ends Norris at Turn 1, who then cannons into Verstappen
Bottas, Leclerc, Perez and Stroll are out#HungarianGP 🇭🇺 #F1 pic.twitter.com/VwFEolQx1R
Norris was furious about Bottas’ driving, showing no interest to accept apologies from the Finn: “Obviously Bottas outbraked himself and hit me then I was a passenger all the way into Max. It sucks but nothing I can do at the end of the day.
“My job was very good, it was a very good start and I did everything I needed to do. Through no fault of my own, I’m here, sadly, talking to you.”
“There’s not much to say is there? It’s not my fault, like, to be honest, he [Bottas] just came over to me then and apologised – but apologies are nice, but it doesn’t change the result or anything, so it’s Lap 1 of the race, no one has to do anything stupid but that’s what they did today. So just ruined it.”
Perez similarly was left disappointed to retire from the race due to Bottas’ mistake, claiming that he has not only lost the chance to score big points, but he has possibly also lost his engine due to the collision.
It’s a big shame. [I was] up to third, I outbraked the McLaren, I was really finding good grip already and unfortunately got some damage and that meant basically I lost a lot today.
“In the beginning; I thought ‘oh it was Lando’,” continued Perez, “but it was clear that Bottas made a big mistake and took everyone out of the race. It’s a big shame, it’s a massive blow for the team but we also lost the engine very likely so not ideal.