Verstappen and Hamilton came to blows at the first chicane on Lap 26 shortly after Hamilton had returned to the track from the pits fractionally ahead of his main championship rival. 

Having attempted to go around the outside of Hamilton at the chicane to claim the inside line for Turn 2, the Dutchman ran wide and bounced over a sausage kerb before being launched over the rear-left wheel of Hamilton’s Mercedes. 

Verstappen’s car rode over the roll hoop on Hamilton’s car and struck the seven-time world champion’s helmet and halo. The device ultimately protected Hamilton from a more severe impact. 

Both drivers were beached in the gravel and forced to retire from the race before pointing the finger of blame firmly at each other for causing the incident. 

Following an investigation, Verstappen was judged to have been “predominantly” to blame for the collision and was subsequently handed a three-place grid penalty for the next race. 

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But the crash would have been avoided altogether had it not been for a pair of problematic pit stops. 

Just two laps earlier, Verstappen came in for a change of tyres in a direct response to race-leader Daniel Ricciardo’s own stop as he looked to jump the McLaren driver during the pit stop window. 

But a rare issue for Red Bull’s usually exemplary pit crew on the front-right meant Verstappen was stationary in his box for 11.1 seconds. 

The disastrous stop dropped Verstappen to 10th behind Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso and all but ended his hopes of victory. 

Almost simultaneously, Hamilton swept past Lando Norris at the second chicane to move into the lead of the race in what looked to be a potentially pivotal championship swing. 

However, Hamilton would encounter his own pit stop issue when he boxed to switch onto mediums at the end of Lap 25. 

A tardy 4.2-second stop from Mercedes resulted in Hamilton feeding back onto the track behind both McLaren’s as he emerged alongside Verstappen. The rest was history.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed after the race that Verstappen’s slow stop was the result of “human error”. 

“We shouldn’t have been in that position, because we had a poor pit stop,” Horner told Sky Sports. 

“We had what looks like a human error. We had an issue at the stop. Unfortunately I think it was on the front-right that we had the issue. 

“The wheel was done up and ready to go and unfortunately the car wasn’t released. 

“So it was a human error. Usually the guys in the pit lane are phenomenal but today it didn’t go their way.

“And then of course, Lewis should have been well clear but they had an issue and that’s what put the two drivers alongside each other.”

Horner also dismissed suggestions that Verstappen’s pit stop issue had affected his judgement when going wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton. 

“I don’t think so,” Horner said. “He’s a racer, he’d got a run on the run down to Turn 1 and into Turn 2. So I don’t think it’s effected his judgement at all.”

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