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Insight: Is there anything to Mercedes and Ferrari's opening lap F1 collisions?

Insight: Is there anything to Mercedes and Ferrari's opening lap F1 collisions?
Jul 9, 2018, 2:08 PM

After two opening lap collisions in three races where a Ferrari has collided with a Mercedes, incurring Ferrari penalties, but costing Mercedes poi...

After two opening lap collisions in three races where a Ferrari has collided with a Mercedes, incurring Ferrari penalties, but costing Mercedes points, Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and James Allison have all raised the question of whether this is more than a co-incidence.

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has dismissed the suggestions. And fans on both sides of the debate have waded in with their opinions.

With Hamilton having a bad start, Ferrari's Raikkonen locked up and ran into the side of Hamilton as the pair were approaching turn three, spinning the Mercedes and putting the Briton to the back of the field.

The incident comes just two races after Valtteri Bottas was the victim of a misjudged braking attempt from Sebastian Vettel at the French Grand Prix, which also sent one Mercedes to the back of the pack.

Through a series of overtakes and a couple of safety car periods, Hamilton managed to recover to second place, but referred to "interesting tactics" from Ferrari when speaking on the podium after the race.

“Our team did an amazing job this weekend, we have so much support and so much pressure for us all,” he said.

“Interesting tactics I would say from their side, but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next races.”

When asked to elaborate on his comments on the podium, Hamilton added that he wanted to be in a position where he was less exposed to the Ferraris in the future races.

"All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris have taken out one of the Mercedes, and a five-second penalty and a ten-second penalty doesn’t appear to feel… ultimately it spoils the race.

"It’s a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri and I have lost in those two scenarios. And, of course, it is a race situation.

"I couldn’t see behind me but we’ve just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars – because who knows when that’s going to happen again.

"We’ve got to make sure that we work hard together as a team to try to lock-out the front row and make sure that we’re fully ahead of these guys."

When speaking to Sky F1, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also did little quell the suspicions that there could be more to the lap one clashes.

"A racing incident. Unfortunate because Le Castellet first time we got taken out and now it is the second time we got taken out," said Wolff.

“It is a lot of constructor points. In [technical director] James Allison’s words, 'do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?'. So this leaves us with a judgement.”

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, who was Allison's boss when he was technical director at Ferrari, replied, " James should be ashamed because he has worked here and taken our money. It's always the British who want to teach us how to be gentlemen. Someone who has never driven can't call Raikkonen incompetent. The real problem here is that they lost at home and that bothers them."

Raikkonen owns up to mistake, believes penalty was fair

Whilst the Ferrari driver only dropped to fifth place, he still had to complete a recovery of his own and was involved in fair wheel-to-wheel combat with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, as well as Mercedes' Bottas to take the final spot on the podium.

Speaking immediately after the race, Raikkonen put his hands up to the opening lap error and believed the penalty was justified.

"Yeah, it was my mistake. That's fine," said Raikkonen.

"I deserve it and I took the 10 seconds and kept fighting. That's how it goes.

"Obviously on the third corner I locked a wheel and ended up hitting Lewis in the rear corner and he spun.

"My bad, that is how it goes sometimes. It was not a straightforward race."

When asked about Hamilton's comments regarding "interesting tactics", Raikkonen brushed off the suggestion by saying it was a racing incident.

"Things happen sometimes. Funnily enough you start blaming us that we did it purposefully but he locked a wheel and unfortunately we touched and both paid the price for it and that’s how it goes sometimes," said Raikkonen.

"It’s easy to say after the couple of races that we’re suddenly doing something against them but we’ve been hit very many times ourselves so that’s how it goes unfortunately."

In a much less erroneous battle, Raikkonen was involved in a thrilling multi-corner contest with Verstappen at the first safety car restart.

Challenging for P4, Raikkonen swept around the outside of Verstappen at Brooklands, giving him the inside of Luffield corner, but the well-handling Red Bull allowed Verstappen to hang on around the outside of Luffield and out-accelerate the Ferrari on the exit.

With Verstappen having most of his car ahead of Raikkonen as they were both powering towards Copse corner, Raikkonen ceded the place and tried again laps later.

An example of how not to race around Copse corner was provided moments later when Haas' Romain Grosjean collided with Renault's Carlos Sainz, sending both out of the race.

Update: 10/07/2018 - Hamilton & Wolff want to move on from incident

Just one day after the British Grand Prix, Hamilton took to Instagram to say that he accepted Raikkonen's apology and would like to put the incident behind him.

"Kimi said sorry and I accept it and we move on. It was a racing incident and nothing more," wrote Hamilton.

"Sometimes we say dumb s*** and we learn from it".

Wolff also looked to diffuse the situation when speaking to Polish TV channel Eleven Sports on Sunday.

"I said you need to question whether it was incompetence or deliberate – a stupid comment of mine in the emotion," he said.

"But it was just a stupid manoeuvre and a stupid manoeuvre that happened a second time in three races – that's why [I had] the emotion."

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy
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