MONACO (Reuters) - Dutch teenager Max Verstappen will have a five-place grid penalty for next month’s Canadian Grand Prix after causing a collision that brought out the safety car and cost world champion Lewis Hamilton a Monaco victory on Sunday.
The Toro Rosso driver smashed into the back of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus at the Sainte Devote first corner while battling for 10th place.
The impact sent the car slamming hard into the impact-absorbing barrier, leaving Verstappen sore but without any serious injury.
While race stewards ruled the rookie had caused the collision, and imposed the grid drop as well as two penalty points, the 17-year-old insisted Frenchman Grosjean was the one at fault.
”It wasn’t really a move,“ he said. ”The lap before I braked on exactly the same spot as I did on the lap I crashed. But clearly you could see Grosjean in front of me braked 10 to 15 meters earlier than the lap before.
”I was caught by surprise because normally nobody does that,“ he added. ”I had nowhere to go. Maybe it looked like an overtake but I was just trying to avoid him.
“If it was my own mistake, I would tell you I misjudged it. But I don’t feel like that.”
Already the youngest driver to race and score points in Formula One, the son of former F1 racer Jos Verstappen had qualified ninth and had started the day hoping for a strong finish.
Slowed by a long pitstop as the team struggled to change the rear tyres, he then showed his intelligence by sticking close behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to pass cars in his slipstream after being lapped.
Grosjean, however, was wise to the trick and let Vettel through while blocking Verstappen, who tailed him closely before the biggest crash of his career.
“At the moment I am quite alright, still a little bit stiff in my arms but for sure tomorrow will be worse,” he said. “I had some little crashes but this was by far the biggest one.”
The safety car interlude led to Hamilton pitting needlessly and losing the race lead to Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis