Verstappen and Raikkonen bemoan first-lap clash
A large Dutch contingent was on hand at Spa-Francorchamps, having crossed the border into neighbouring Belgium to watch Max Verstappen do battle – but in the end the Red Bull man only made it as far as Turn 3…
Having made a poor getaway, Verstappen tangled with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1 at the start, breaking his front suspension and lifting the Finn’s Alfa Romeo off the ground. Unaware of the damage, Verstappen kept his foot in down the hill towards Eau Rouge, only to discover his car had no steering when it arrived at the corner, putting him on a collision course with the barriers.
The early exit brought Verstappen’s impressive 21-race run of top-five finishes to an abrupt end, although the Dutchman was fairly philosophical afterwards.
“I had a poor start, I don’t really know why,” commented Verstappen. “We’ll look into that. I just braked maybe a little later than the two cars ahead of me, but for me it was all working quite well.
“But I guess Kimi didn’t expect me to be there anymore so he did his normal line and we just touched. The track rod was broken after that so that’s why I went straight on at Eau Rouge. That’s racing, these things can happen.
"I don't think you can blame anyone," he later added.
As Verstappen retired, Raikkonen returned to the pits twice to have his car checked over, gamely carrying on despite his Alfa having clearly sustained significant damage.
"After [the crash] it was almost pointless to be out there,” said the Finn.
“Obviously we stayed there just in case something weird happened but we had such big damage to the floor. It was a shame, the car would have been good, but what can you do?”
Verstappen’s non-score means the 21-year-old loses pace with third-place finisher Valtteri Bottas in the battle for second in the drivers’ standings, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel closing to within 12 points of the Red Bull driver.