Furious Red Bull boss Christian Horner has demanded that Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo apologise in person to the team’s 800 staff following their crash at the Azerbaijan GP.
Verstappen and Ricciardo had been at each other’s throats for much of the race on the streets of Baku, and their high-speed collision with 11 laps remaining appeared almost inevitable.
On the longest and fastest straight on the Formula One calendar, Ricciardo lined up his overtake in the battle for fourt
But as Verstappen moved to his left to cover off his team-mate, Ricciardo was left with little room for manoeuvre and thudded into the back of him. In an instant, both cars were wiped out of the race.
Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s technical boss, removed his headset in disgust and stormed straight from the pit wall to the garage.
Horner sat motionless, aghast at what he had just witnessed.
“The most important thing is that they both recognise that what happened today is unacceptable,” Horner said.
“We’ve let them race hard against each other, but unfortunately today has resulted in the worst possible scenario, where you’ve had both drivers make contact and retire from the grand prix. It is enormously disappointing.
“They are both in the doghouse.
“What’s annoying is that we’ve given away an awfully large amount of points today, so both drivers will be apologising to all the members of staff, who work so hard to put these cars together, before the next race in Barcelona.”
Stewards hauled both men before them in the hours after the race and determined they were equally at fault, hitting them with a reprimand.
Niki Lauda, the non-executive chairman for Mercedes and three-time world champion, however, laid the blame firmly at Verstappen’s door.
The 69-year-old Austrian, who was also critical of Verstappen after the last round in China, accused the young Dutchman of weaving in his attempt to stop Ricciardo from passing.
It is Verstappen’s third collision in as many races following run-ins with Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and now Ricciardo.
“It is 70 per cent Verstappen, and 30 per cent Ricciardo,” Lauda said. “If you move on him all the time where can the poor guy go?”
Lauda added: “I would go home and cry. It is a disaster. I would bring them both into the office, and tell them how much less they will get paid for the damage they have done.”
The incident comes as Ricciardo is publicly considering a move to Ferrari or Mercedes for next season.
The stewards ruled that Verstappen had moved twice to defend his position – when only one move is allowed – and said Ricciardo admitted he left it “too late” to overtake. Both drivers received a formal reprimand, and each apologised to Red Bull.
“This is the last thing we wanted. We want to be able to race and I’m thankful that the team let us race,” Ricciardo said.
“Everyone is pretty heartbroken.”
Verstappen said he didn’t want the team to stop him fighting Ricciardo on the track in the future.
“We will learn from this and have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Verstappen said.