Formula 1 this weekend heads to the unloved Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix, and while the former Winter Olympics venue is the least inspiring on the calendar, all eyes will be fixed on what happens next between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
At Monza, these two immovable objects once again collided, crashing out together as they did at Silverstone. It was at a lower speed this time, but only the ‘halo’ safety bars over Hamilton’s cockpit saved him from a serious head injury or even payment of the ultimate price.
The stakes are always high in motorsport, but when respect between two adversaries becomes too brittle, the consequences can all too easily spiral into deadly realms.
We've been here before
At Silverstone, the stewards placed the blame for the Copse collision at Hamilton’s door, but the 10-second penalty wasn’t enough to stop him winning the British GP. At Monza, Verstappen was “predominantly” at fault, apparently, although with his Red Bull’s nose shovelling gravel, there was no way back for Verstappen in this one.
You’ll have your own view. Toto Wolff’s “tactical foul” accusation was, I thought, a low blow and an indication of just how toxic things have become between the Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull camps.
But his rhetorical question “How far can we go?” was valid. A catalogue of minor incidents and two major clashes between the title protagonists can now be totted up and there’s a running theme through all of them: these two fantastic F1 drivers do respect each other, but there’s a lack of trust between them. Poles apart as characters, the rivalry has simmered to a boiling point where neither will back down when it comes to the crunch – and that’s where we enter Senna versus Prost territory.