The battle for the 2021 F1 World Championship took another controversial turn at the Italian Grand Prix, with title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen colliding yet again in a clash on Lap 26 of the race at Monza. Both cars were forced to retire following the incident at the first chicane, and Verstappen was later handed a three-place grid penalty for his role in what happened.
Needless to say, the coming together has sparked a great deal of reaction from the drivers, teams and fans. Verstappen and Hamilton both seemed to blame each other, whilst Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff accused Verstappen of making a "tactical foul".
There have also been various takes on the incident from international media outlets.
In the United Kingdom, the BBC labelled the collision "frightening", with their race report stating that Hamilton "held the inside line" whilst Verstappen "refused to yield on the outside". Their description of the clash, though, seemed to avoid placing any blame: "Verstappen had more than half a car's length by Hamilton, but was squeezed off the track and as his Red Bull bounced against the kerbs, a rotating rear wheel launched him into the air and pitched it over Hamilton's car before thumping down on the air box which sits just above the driver's head."
The BBC noted the role played by the Halo device in protecting Hamilton from injury. Similarly, Spanish outlet Marca had concerns about safety given the multiple run-ins that have occurred between Verstappen and Hamilton this season. They wrote: "It seems that every time they cross each other on the track (it happened twice yesterday), they are going to beat each other up pretty badly. Great for the show, but for the sport itself or their physical safety, we will see the consequences."
Meanwhile, in the French media, L'Equipe placed the blame on the egos of both drivers, writing: "On Sunday at Monza, Verstappen and Hamilton could both have taken turns at a braking or cornering point to give up the lead. It would seem that their egos, which make them champions, no longer allow them to do so."
Such a remark suggests that the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen has reached a new level, and is potentially becoming iconic. This is something picked up by some Italian media outlets. Gazzetta dello Sport carried an image of the collision on their front page and wrote: "The duel between Verstappen and Hamilton has become powerful. A fight that may go down in history like the one between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Just like the picture of Verstappen on top of Hamilton's car has already entered the history books. The F1 world is currently watching a battle that has been dreamt of for years."
La Repubblica also reacted to how the fight bears similarities to those that have gone before, including the bitter inter-team battle between Hamilton and former teammate Nico Rosberg. "We also see a battle in F1, which we haven't seen since the fight between Rosberg and Hamilton," they wrote. Additionally, there was criticism levelled at Verstappen for seemingly not checking on Hamilton following the collision: "Verstappen made the mistake of not going to check on his competitor after the crash, while he was still stuck in the car. Something you don't do, even as a competitor. You go and see if the other driver is OK."
It is unsurprising that the controversial incident has resulted in so much reaction, and there will surely be more to come before the 2021 F1 season resumes at the Russian Grand Prix on 24 - 26 September.