F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Martin Brundle believes the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix was ’too close to call’ – even after reviewing the footage. After being awarded a five-place grid penalty, Hamilton had one of his great drives to climb from P10 and take the chequered flag at Interlagos.
The result means the Brit has closed the gap on championship leader Verstappen ahead of the final three races.
On lap 48 on Sunday, the two rivals were battling for the lead with Hamilton’s Mercedes appearing to narrowly edge ahead of the Red Bull, which was on the inside.
Verstappen ran wide and the move forced both drivers off the track, with the Dutchman holding the lead for a few more laps before the seven-time world champion finally took the lead.
While Hamilton took the lead and win anyway, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Verstappen should have received a penalty.
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An investigation was deemed unnecessary after the FIA consulted footage provided by broadcast cameras – but Verstappen’s on-board footage shows the Dutchman clearly didn’t turn as aggressively as he could have, forcing Hamilton from the road.
In his Sky column, Brundle assessed the incident in detail.
“In the beginning, it appeared that Verstappen could steal a third of a second over Hamilton every pass through the tortuous middle sector to help build a buffer on the pit straight from the Merc missile,” the commentator wrote.
“But Hamilton was relentless and on lap 48, Verstappen had to weave and defend, placing Hamilton on the outside but racing line into turn four. Max will say they both braked late, him from the dirty part of the track, and both ran wide.
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“I’m sure that Max would also say that when he realised Lewis had gone into the run-off area, he straightened his car to do the same and accelerate away.
“On viewing the onboard footage, it confirms that Max braked very late and was slow and limited with his turn-in point, but at no point did he open the steering wheel towards Lewis. It was totally on the limit and could have easily gone either way with the stewards.
“It warranted a driving-standards warning black and white flag at least.
“Mercedes may still ask for a stewards’ review, but those claims rarely get a change of decision. In any event, Red Bull will say they cruised at the end and so any five-second penalty putting them behind Bottas would be unfair, Max would have just driven faster, to which Mercedes will say so would have Valtteri.
“Hamilton remained very calm about the incident and the subsequent radio call to tell him no further action from the stewards. I strongly suspect his determination to pass Max soared at that point.
“That pass would happen on lap 59 of the 71. Along the pit straight, Max had to go low into turn one to defend the rapid Hamilton, which put him out of sync for the turns 1/2/3 combo. Lewis swung high and picked up the perfect line, which would see him power past using DRS down to turn four. Barring any reliability issues, the victory was his.
“Red Bull had few answers in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes on the day, and had no answers when behind him.”
Formula 1 travels to the Losail Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix on November 21, with Red Bull star Verstappen holding a 14-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.
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