Merc's Wolff apologises after Bottas 'takes out' Verstappen in Hungarian GP

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Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 retires from the race during the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on August 01, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.
Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 retires from the race during the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on August 01, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo by Bryn Lennon

• Mercedes Valtteri Bottas caused a huge crash on the opening Hungarian GP lap.

• As a result, five cars including Bottas, were taken out of the race.

• The incident has caused more tension between the two leading rival teams.

• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

"Taken out by a Mercedes - again." That was how Max Verstappen reacted on Sunday after losing the world championship lead to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in Hungary.

Some publications published post-race comments by the Red Bull driver that were strewn with expletives.

"What kind of reaction do you expect?" he said. "In the last two weeks, there have been too many strange situations in which we lost a lot of points."

READ | Aston Martin to appeal Vettel disqualification from Hungarian GP

Indeed, just two weeks after the Silverstone saga kicked off, it was another highly tumultuous F1 race, this time on the twisty Hungaroring circuit near Budapest.

New championship leader Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas admitted he made a mistake on the slippery run to Turn 1, which took out both Red Bulls.

"I think that's fair enough," said the Finn was asked if it was his fault.

"Sure, I should have braked earlier, but it's not easy to assess," he told Sky Deutschland.

"It's not like I did it on purpose."

F1 UPDATE | Vettel's second place disqualified, Hamilton now extends championship lead

After the high controversy surrounding Hamilton's contact with Verstappen at Silverstone, resulting in the Red Bull driver's brief hospitalisation, the latest incident is sure only to raise tensions between the title-charging teams even more.

"Bottas has done a good job for Mercedes today," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, with Sergio Perez also taken out by the second Mercedes driver.

When asked if he would like to apologise on behalf of Bottas, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff answered: "I'm doing that in public - we're sorry."

Horner, however, reacted: "Is he going to pay the bill?

"Ultimately, this is racing, and Toto wasn't driving the car. I'm sure he (Bottas) wasn't supposed to cause a crash.

"But for us, the consequences are severe, and given we're in the budget cap era now; maybe the FIA needs to look at that."

Indeed, Horner said Perez's engine was damaged in the incident, while Honda ultimately had to replace the engine fitted to Verstappen's crashed car at Silverstone.

According to sources, the early running in Hungary later revealed a minor crack in Verstappen's engine that steadily got worse.

There is no immediate penalty for the Dutchman, but 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said a ten-place drop later in the season for needing to use a fourth engine is now inevitable.

"That is a significant disadvantage in the world championship fight against a Hamilton as strong as this," he said.

Although Hamilton has raced six points (now eight points after Sebastian Vette's disqualification) ahead of Verstappen, the damage could have been much more significant for the Red Bull star in Hungary.

"Thankfully, Mercedes did a howler strategically today, and Fernando Alonso looked like he was driving for Red Bull which limited the damage," said Horner.

Finally, Hamilton admitted he thinks he is still suffering the effects of so-called 'long covid' after requiring medical attention for dizziness immediately after Sunday's Hungarian GP.

"I've been fighting it all year, really, with my health. It's still a battle," he said.

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