Paulsiter Verstappen lost his lead at the start of the Italian Grand Prix to eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren slipped during the first period.
After responding to Ricciardo’s stopping point, Verstappen endured a painfully slow pit for 11 seconds, dropping him behind the second McLaren of Lando Norris.
He also put the Dutchman on Hamilton’s trail when the Briton stopped, then the pair clashed in Monza’s first duel causing the two title champions to retire.
Describing the disaster as a “racing accident”, Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted that Verstappen shouldn’t have been fighting Hamilton in the first place, and he should have been much further out on the road with a normal pit stop.
“We had a tough stop, we had a station problem, so he was held for much longer than he should have,” Horner said. “He shouldn’t have been anywhere near Lewis.”
“And then Lewis really got into trouble because he should have been pretty clear about Max, and then he put them in a situation where they would be racing against each other. And of course, they’d go to he-she.”
When asked about the nature of the stalling problem, Horner said it was a “human error” the team was still investigating.
“There is an issue that we need to fully understand that looks like a problem with the right front,” he explained.
“We had what looked like human error. The wheel was engaged and ready to go and unfortunately, the car was not released.
“Normally, the guys are exceptional in the pit lane today. They didn’t go their way.
“But that’s where unfortunately, that got us into a situation where we weren’t supposed to be around anyways.
“And of course Mercedes then got it wrong with Lewis, they should have been pretty clear. And then they had a problem and that got the drivers side by side.”