Verstappen had been informed that he needed to concede first place back to his rival and the Red Bull driver wanted to do so on the main straight, in order to be behind in a DRS zone which could allow for an immediate overtake.
Hamilton shunted into the back of Verstappen and in his original assessment on television, Red Bull advisor Marko said the team was being ‘treated unfairly’ because Hamilton ‘miscalculated’.
Max Verstappen (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right) collided on Lap 37 at the Saudi Arabia GP
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko (right) has apologised for his initial comments that deflected the blame on to Hamilton and Mercedes as he refuted claims of Verstappen braking harshly
‘We feel we have been treated unfairly,’ Marko said in his TV interview in Jeddah.
‘We are working to prove Max’s braking pressure did not increase when he crashed with Hamilton,’ said the Austrian.
‘Hamilton simply misjudged and drove into Max’s car. Unfortunately, that left two big cuts in our rear tyre. That’s why we couldn’t attack anymore.’
But the 78-year-old has since had a change of heart and he accepts that Verstappen, who was later given a 10-second time penalty by stewards, did brake on his rival.
‘At the time of the television interview, I passed on exactly the information I had previously received from the engineers,’ Marko told f1-insider.com.
‘(Engineers) obviously weren’t right, so I’m sorry.’
Verstappen was told to cede position and so he slowed down on the straight, causing a clash
It was judged that Verstappen was ‘predominantly at fault’ for the collision on Lap 37 and as well as the time penalty the Dutchman was handed two points on his license.
‘What happened today is unbelievable and this sport is more about penalties than racing,’ an irritated Verstappen fumed after the race, which saw Hamilton draw level with him for a winner-takes-all in Abu Dhabi this weekend. ‘For me, this is not Formula 1.’
Hamilton has maintained that their latest on-track collision was unavoidable from his perspective as he was not aware Verstappen was told to give first place back.
‘I didn’t get the information,’ Hamilton told Sky F1.
Hamilton recovered to win the race and set up a thrilling winner-takes-all race out in Abu Dhabi
‘All of a sudden he started backing up and then moving. I was like ‘is he playing some sort of crazy tactic?’.
‘All of a sudden messages started to come through, but he hit the brakes so hard l nearly went up the back of him. For him, it doesn’t matter if we both didn’t finish.’
Momentum is with Hamilton and Mercedes now following a flurry of wins but Marko is hopeful that Red Bull can get Verstappen over the finish line for his maiden world championship title.
‘Hopefully, the sad chapter of Saudi Arabia has now closed,’ he added. ‘In any case, we are just looking ahead. We want to win in Abu Dhabi and so win the title. We will do everything for this, but we will not take any unfair actions.
‘In Saudi Arabia, we already had the pace to keep up with Hamilton. The track in Abu Dhabi should be more accommodating to us.’