Hamilton v Verstappen: Their careers in numbers
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Lewis Hamilton went level with Max Verstappen at the top of the F1 leaderboard on Sunday after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver looked out of the championship race last month but has tasted glory at the last three races to reignite his title hopes.
The Saudi race was mired with controversy due to the dangerous nature of the track and a string of drivers crashed out.
Hamilton and Verstappen clashed on lap 37 as the Dutchman was told to cede his lead after gaining it illegally.
But he applied his breaks heavily as Hamilton came up behind him, and the Briton clipped the back of the Red Bull, damaging his wing in the process.
Verstappen was deemed at fault after that incident and the duo have already come to blows on a number of occasions this season.
In July, Verstappen was taken to hospital after careering into a wall after colliding with Hamilton at the British Grand Prix.
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And former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone believes Verstappen is getting a raw deal from his nemesis.
“Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him,” Ecclestone told AFP.
“They have been pushing down all the time on Max and then the race directors have been looking in because Toto goes to the race director.
“Max has more than a race to confront as he has them too on his back because they are bullying him and not playing fair.
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“It is psychological game playing.
“Max has had a few years of racing but has not had years in the streets like Lewis.
“It has built character and knowing he would win the race with Mercedes being the dominant force over the past few years has made him a much stronger character than Max.
“For Max, this season is the first one he has had a car capable of winning regularly whereas before it was nothing like competitive.”
The F1 title race is set to go down to the wire this weekend, with Verstappen having relinquished a 32-point lead since the summer.
It’s the first time two title-rivals have gone into the final race level pegging since 1974.
In that season, Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni were neck-and-neck as they prepared for the season crescendo, with the legendary Brazilian driver eventually winning the championship.
“This has been an incredible year,” added Ecclestone. “This year it has been good to have something a little bit different.
“There is nothing wrong with Lewis, he has done the best he can but he has had a lot of help.”
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