Max Verstappen hits out at Lewis Hamilton as he claims he is ‘treated differently’

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Max Verstappen believes it’s unfair he is being “treated differently” during his tense championship battle with Lewis Hamilton ahead of Sunday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen was hit with two-time penalties during the penultimate race of the season in Saudi Arabia but kept his second-place finish in Jeddah.

Verstappen was first hit with a five-second penalty for forcing Hamilton off the track to take the lead of the race after a red-flagged period and was then handed a 10-second time penalty for his “erratic” braking resulting in the seven-time world champion slamming into the back of the Red Bull.

Now with the points equal between the pair heading into the final race of the season, the championship will be decided under the floodlights in the desert.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the race, Verstappen felt he just wanted it to be a fair contest between the two.

“The only thing I ask for is that it’s fair for everyone and clearly that’s not the case at the moment,” remarked Verstappen. “I don’t feel like I was wrong and clearly it is not wrong for others so why should I go and change while for others they are allowed to race like that.

“I think everyone should be allowed to race like that.

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“From my side what’s unfair is that I’m treated differently from other drivers, clearly other drivers can get away with it and I can’t, and that’s a bit of a problem here.”

“Clearly things don’t apply to everyone because the things I did, in terms of defending, two other guys in terms of racing also did, and it never got mentioned or a penalty, so I don’t understand because I thought I was just racing hard.

“What happened for me didn’t deserve any penalty, and clearly for the other two people it didn’t, if they were going to get one, but clearly it’s only me who gets it.

“Fighting at the front, people are more critical I guess but for me, I don’t understand.”

Asked whether he understood the rules of racing, particularly after avoiding a penalty for driving Hamilton off the track in Brazil, Verstappen replied: “For me, I was not wrong [in Saudi Arabia] but clearly only I was wrong somehow – twice.

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“But other people do exactly the same thing and they get nothing. Both of us [he and Hamilton] were off the track, outside the white line into turn one, and somehow they judged it was my fault, that I don’t agree with.

“And then the other penalty as well, I don’t agree with.

“Afterwards he [Hamilton] pushes me off the track, he even looks at me, he doesn’t turn in, he just pushes me outside the white line, the track edge, and he only gets a warning for that.

“It’s not how it should be, not fair because it seems like other drivers can do different things, and it seems like only I get a penalty.”

Verstappen added he would congratulate Hamilton after the race, if the seven-time world champion beat him to the title, but only if everything goes fair.

Hamilton and Verstappen have had a fractious relationship this season, with the pair locking horns many times across the season.

When asked if he had seen a different side to Hamilton and Mercedes this season, Verstappen responded: “Yes, very much, and not in a positive way.”

Qualifying for Sunday’s title decider gets underway on Saturday at 1pm GMT, with the race the following day at the same time.

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