Max Verstappen called Charles Leclerc’s Turn 4 move in the Sakhir Grand Prix “reckless” after an incident forced both drivers to retire on the opening lap of the race.
Leclerc, Verstappen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez were left jostling for position on the straight from Turn 3 to Turn 4 on the first lap, going three-wide at one point.
But as Leclerc dived up the inside of Verstappen at Turn 4, the Ferrari driver locked up and ran into Perez ahead, sending both cars spinning.
Verstappen was forced wide as a result of the spins, running into the gravel and crashing into the wall at the exit of Turn 4, putting him out of the race.
Leclerc was also eliminated, while Perez dropped to the back of the order and was forced to pit on the opening lap behind the resulting safety car.
“The start wasn’t bad, but of course, Valtteri [Bottas] squeezed, which is normal, so I had to back out,” Verstappen explained.
“From there onwards, it was all about surviving in-between the cars. I don’t know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless. We are all up in the front, and at the end of the day now, three cars basically were the victim of that, two cars heavily.
“I don’t really know why, especially Charles in Turn 4, why he dives up the inside like that, especially to brake that late as well. What do you expect?
“Checo cannot see what is happening on the inside, and he basically just locked his wheel and understeered into him.
“When Checo was spinning backwards, I tried to go around the outside, tried not to damage my car, but there’s nothing you can do there.”
Leclerc explained that he thought Perez would hang his car out wide to try and pass Bottas for second place, only to be caught out by how the Racing Point car came back across the track.
“I was in fifth I think, and I was side-by-side, a bit behind Max I think, and tried to overtake him into Turn 4,” Leclerc said.
“I had seen Checo, but I expected him to go around the outside of Valtteri and stay there, but I think he decided after to come back on the inside, and I was there.
“It was too late for me to slow down. I don’t think it’s a mistake from Checo, I’m not putting the blame on Checo. If there’s anybody to blame today, it’s me. But I would say it’s more unfortunate than blame.”
When told that Leclerc had taken the blame, Verstappen replied: “As he should.”
The stewards confirmed shortly after the incident they would be investigating the clash after the race.
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th