Verstappen and Hamilton’s awkward post-crash phone call: ‘Don’t mean to be patronising’

Hamilton v Verstappen: Their careers in numbers

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s title fight is going right down to the wire as both go into the final race this weekend level on points. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will undoubtedly go down in history as the race that settled one of the most dramatic seasons in Formula 1 history. The young Dutchman, who drives for Red Bull, is hoping to win his first world championship. Meanwhile, Hamilton could make history by winning a record eighth title, surpassing the legendary Michael Schumacher.

Last week’s race in Saudi Arabia was only the latest in a long line of clashes between Verstappen and Hamilton this season.

The Mercedes man emerged victorious, but only after two red flags, safety car chaos and multiple incidents with Verstappen, including one where Hamilton’s car accrued wing damage.

Verstappen and Hamilton have also come together at Silverstone and Monza this season.

In October, the seven-time world champion revealed that he spoke to Verstappen on the phone which happened after the incident during the British Grand Prix in July.

Hamilton told ESPN: “I called him after Silverstone, but, again, I don’t mean to be patronising, but I am much older.

“I’m much older and it was important for me to call and to be able to break the ice.

“I feel he’s a tremendous talent and I am enjoying racing with him. Do I agree with everything he does? It doesn’t even matter.

“What matters is that he does him and he will learn, and all I can control is what I do and how I handle things.”

During the race at Silverstone, Hamilton attempted to overtake Verstappen at Copse, a high-speed right-hand corner.

However, he clipped the back of the Dutchman’s car, sending him into the wall and out of the race.

The Briton was handed a 10-second penalty, but still went on to win the race.

Then, at the Italian Grand Prix in September, the pair crashed out on the same corner after colliding into each other in a bizarre incident.

Hamilton had just left the pit lane and re-entered the track but Verstappen came up on his left hand side before trying to squeeze his rival out on the next bend.

Verstappen’s car then looked unsteady as it bobbled over the curb on the bend, before the wheels of his Red Bull came together with that of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

The clash forced Verstappen’s car up into the air as both vehicles skidded off the track, with the Red Bull vehicle eventually resting on the nose of Hamilton’s Mercedes and forcing both drivers out of the race.

Following the incident, Hamilton said the halo around his cockpit had saved his life.

He said: “I feel very, very fortunate today. Thank God for the halo.

“That ultimately saved me. And saved my neck. I don’t think I have ever been hit on the head by a car before and it is quite a shock for me.

“If you see the image, my head is quite far forward.

“I have been racing for a long, long time and I am so so grateful I am still here and feel incredibly blessed that someone was watching over me today.”

Verstappen’s driving style, particularly in Saudi Arabia, has led to criticism.

Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle said Verstappen “has got to think about his driving standards.”

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He added: “There’s aggressive, determined, feisty racing and then there’s what we saw this evening, which was too much.”

Johnny Herbert added: “It puts a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth. I think it just shows what Max is willing to do to try and win this world championship.

“I agree with Lewis – I love Max for what he does on the racetrack – but he does really push the limits, and sometimes he pushes it too much.”

However, former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has accused Hamilton and Mercedes of “bullying” Verstappen this season.

He said: “Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him.

“They have been pushing down all the time on Max and then the race directors have been looking in because Toto [Wolff] 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. It is psychological game playing.”

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