Martin Brundle has "no doubt" that Max Verstappen races to a different set of limits when fighting Lewis Hamilton after the latest clash between the rivals at the São Paulo Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Verstappen was attempting a move around the outside of turn one and the inside of turn two when he made contact with the Mercedes of Hamilton, with both suffering damage.
The incident left the two-time champion with a five-second penalty and a pit stop required to fix his front wing.
Both drivers regularly endured heated on-track conflict during the ill-tempered title battle last season, which culminated in the dramatic final-lap victory for Verstappen.
Reviewing the latest skirmish in his Sky Sports F1 column, Brundle said: "Max initially seemed to be defending the inside against his team-mate [Sergio Perez] before suddenly deciding to attack Hamilton around the outside.
"Partly ahead, and then partly behind, but having the inside line for turn two - as the agreement between drivers and race control has been carefully explained to me by a key driver - being that far alongside Lewis and on the inside, Max was entitled to some racing room."
Suggesting each driver adapts their racing attitude when in direct conflict, Brundle continued: "I have no doubt that Max has a different set of limits when in combat with Lewis, and Lewis has similarly decided to fight fire with fire.
"And so inevitably they hit but continued. The stewards said Lewis could have given 'a little more space', and in my view, Max could have taken even more kerb, or indeed lifted off the throttle but that's not racing.
"The stewards decided it was predominantly Max's fault and he got a five-second penalty and a pit stop for a new nose. I thought it was a racing incident.
"Lewis' car was a bit scruffy but all the fast bits were intact and he set off in spectacular recovery mode."