F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Lewis Hamilton’s Brazil punishment has been deemed uncomfortable for the sport after a duel for the ages against title rival Max Verstappen in Sao Paulo. The Brit was slapped with a fine for undoing his seat belt after the chequered flag as he flaunted the Brazilian colours to a jubilant crowd.
Hamilton’s final trip to see the stewards was by no means his only controversy amid a chaotic weekend of racing.
The seven-time world champion headed into Friday qualifying knowing that a five-place grid penalty awaited him on Sunday for changing power units.
Nevertheless, damage limitation appeared to be going well when he breezed through on pole for Saturday’s qualifying sprint, before he was disqualified for a rear-wing violation.
That saw him start from the very back, working his way back up to fifth in order to start 10th on Sunday.
All the while, Championship leader Verstappen was fairly comfortable on the front row, and he passed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas on the first corner of the race.
Yet another controversy unfolded when Hamilton fought his way back to the Dutchman, as Verstappen seemed to run both himself and the Brit wide on lap 48, an incident which stewards are still investigating after Mercedes’ latest appeal.
But after battling back to claim a famous victory, the 36-year-old’s final setback came after undoing his seat belt to reach for a Brazilian flag, resulting in a £4,200 fine.
“This was against the rules and the FIA don’t want it to set a precedent for junior drivers coming through the ranks which is a fair point,” Martin Brundle told Sky Sports.
“It’s uncomfortable for F1 to be spoilsports, especially on a weekend when Valentino Rossi was delivering his exuberant motorcycle racing farewell.
“But it’s easy to be trundling along at 80mph or more when heading for the pits in these cars and seatbelts fastened is mandatory.
“The Brazilian crowd, with no driver of their own on the grid [racing a car anyway], really took to Lewis again, knowing his admiration and inspiration for Senna.
“Initially, I found it a bit odd that he wasn’t wrapped in a Union Jack, but he was re-enacting an iconic moment, and with a drive which Ayrton would have been very impressed with.”
Hamilton’s triumph sees the gap at the top cut to just 14 points, while Bottas’ podium finish sees Mercedes extend their lead in the Constructors’ standings.
With Qatar beckoning this coming weekend, the title race is well and truly hotting up on both fronts.
Both drivers have plenty at stake, with Hamilton chasing his record-breaking eighth title and Verstappen pursuing his first.
Whether more punishment could be dished out on account of incidents which occurred in Sao Paulo remains to be seen, but they could have their own part to play in Qatar.
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