Should Lewis Hamilton have been penalised for Max Verstappen incident in Abu Dhabi?

Lewis Hamilton avoided punishment for an incident with Max Verstappen on the first lap at the decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which has divided opinion.

Red Bull were furious after Verstappen got ahead of his rival at the turn nine hairpin only for Hamilton to cut the corner and keep the lead.

Seven-times world champion Hamilton had taken the lead from the start with Red Bull’s Verstappen slow off the mark from pole position but making a move on the inside into turn seven.

The two drivers are level on points with Verstappen ahead 9-8 on race wins.

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What did the officials say?

Stewards decided no investigation was necessary, with race director Michael Masi saying Hamilton had slowed enough to give back the time advantage gained. The decision had some consistency with Brazil and a similar incident when no action was taken.

How did Red Bull react?

Verstappen felt Hamilton should have relinquished the lead. He was quick on the radio to tell his team that Hamilton needed to give the place back while the Briton told Mercedes he had been pushed off track.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports television from the pitwall that there was “a total lack of consistency” in the stewards’ decision and his team now had to “do it the hard way”.

His team manager Jonathan Wheatley continued the debate with Masi, saying Verstappen had done everything right and he did not understand the logic.

“Jonathan, the stewards have reviewed it and determined that all of the lasting advantage was gained and that Max forced that position there. They have said they have review it and are not investigating.”

What do the pundits think?

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, said he was also struggling to understand the regulations.

“Obviously, in Brazil there was no penalty, but they both drove off the circuit. Max stayed on the track this time,” said the Briton, referring to a similar incident at Interlagos last month.


Hamilton’s former team mate Nico Rosberg agreed: “Max was a little bit too lungy and too aggressive, forcing Lewis out too strongly, even though he had a right to the corner there,” said the German.

“Then I would also say Lewis didn’t give back everything that he gained.”

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