Verstappen blasts 'stupid idiot' Hamilton during heated US Grand Prix practice

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Max Verstappen fumed at "stupid idiot" Lewis Hamilton and aimed a middle-finger salute at his title rival in a heated United States Grand Prix session.

The fight for the Formula One title intensified when the pair came close to making contact during FP2 at the Circuit of The Americas on Friday.

Championship leader Verstappen snapped over the team radio after going wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton, saying: "Ha! Stupid idiot!" and making his feelings clear with a gesture to the Mercedes driver.

A Red Bull engineer told Verstappen to "ignore it" as the Dutchman endured a frustrating day, having been caught in traffic at the start of the mid-session short runs.

He could only finish down in eighth in the second session as Sergio Perez set the pace, with Hamilton third behind Lando Norris.

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in the first session, but will take a five-place grid penalty in Austin after having a sixth engine of the season – with three being the limit – fitted and a sixth exhaust.

Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff says there is a risk that Hamilton, who trails Verstappen by only six points, could take another grid penalty this season

He added: "I can't say whether we will be taking one and what the percentage is, but obviously the risk is still there.

"What is difficult to evaluate is do you want to pre-empt the situation and take another penalty and take the hit or do you want to really run it and possibly risk a DNF, and that is a discussion that is happening as we speak, and we haven’t come to the right answers yet."

Williams driver George Russell, Bottas' replacement at Mercedes for 2022, and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel will start on the back row after they had multiple new engine parts fitted.

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  • 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles

    Fernando Alonso claims seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton now knows how the other drivers feel, as Mercedes struggle to keep up with the pace-setters this season.

    Hamilton, 37, won six of the seven titles leading into the 2021 season, but he appears incapable of getting back to the mountain top just now, with Mercedes so much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

    Alonso, 40, won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and after a strong run with Ferrari in the early 2010s, he struggled mightily after his move to McLaren, finishing 17th, 10th, 15th and 11th from 2015 to 2018.

    After trying his hand at other racing disciplines in 2019 and 2020, Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021, where he is now partnered with Esteban Ocon as the two battle it out in the midfield with a car that cannot compete for wins.

    Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso highlighted how often the success of a driver can be out of their hands, and expressed only limited sympathy for Hamilton's struggles this season.

    "This is the nature of the sport," Alonso said. "Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.

    "This year we see that the driver is very important in F1, but not crucial. Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

    "Now he is doing a mega lap – as he said in Australia or somewhere like that – and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."

    Alonso compared his championship years to Hamilton's, saying often the true stars of the team are behind the scenes, while the drivers get to soak in all the glory.

    "To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years," Alonso said.

    "He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers, there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."

    In a show of respect for this generation's most successful driver, Alonso predicted Hamilton will rebound from a slow start and finish ahead of team-mate George Russell this season.

    "George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis," Alonso said. "But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front.

    "This is just a five-race championship [so far], but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent."

  • Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season

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    After five races of the 2022 season, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the way in the drivers' standings on 104 points, with defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second on 85.

    The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on Sunday in Barcelona.

  • Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP

    The drivers' and constructors' championships both heating up as Formula One makes its seasonal return to Europe seems fitting. 

    After legs in the Middle East, Australia and North America, Red Bull are comprehensively in the fight against Ferrari heading into this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

    With consecutive race wins at the Emilia Romagna GP and Miami GP following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia, Max Verstappen has closed the gap to standings leader Charles Leclerc to 19 points.

    After coming perilously close to such an error at Imola, a single mistake or DNF for Leclerc and a full points haul for Verstappen could see momentum in the drivers' championship completely shift.

    Barcelona is a happy hunting ground for Verstappen, who claimed victory there in 2016 in only his first drive for Red Bull.

    It could continue if the reigning world champion secures pole position, having converted 14 career poles into 10 race victories, the best rate of any driver in F1 history.

    Meanwhile, with Sergio Perez also contributing with solid driving and good race pace on Sunday, Red Bull have cut the gap in the constructors' standings to only six points.

    Only in Monaco have the team collected more points than in Spain, with 332 compared to 312, but that could change this weekend.

    With a fifth consecutive top-four finish, Perez could equal his best such run of results, recorded between Turkey and Qatar last season.

    Ferrari set for upgrades

    The gravity of Red Bull's resurgence could arguably be crystallised in the likelihood Ferrari will have upgrades installed for this weekend after only tinkering and researching on race weekends to this point.

    Leclerc will be looking to lead from the front, with all four of his race wins in F1 coming from pole position.

    Carlos Sainz will also be hoping for a strong finish at his home grand prix, where he has accumulated the most points (40) in his career alongside Monaco.

    Can Mercedes challenge?

    While they might not be a championship contender in either the drivers' or constructors' standings, Mercedes have at least shown improved performance to potentially challenge for podiums and race wins.

    The Silver Arrows come into this contest having taken the past nine pole positions in Barcelona, and they will likely need to make it another to challenge on Sunday.

    Lewis Hamilton is still waiting to surpass Michael Schumacher for the most consecutive seasons with a race win.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
    2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 85
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 66
    4. George Russell (Mercedes) 59 
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 53

    Constructors

    1. Ferrari 157
    2. Red Bull 151
    3. Mercedes 95
    4. McLaren 46
    5. Alfa Romeo 31

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