Hamilton labels Verstappen driving 'over the limit' after Saudi Arabia drama

By Sports Desk December 05, 2021

Lewis Hamilton described Max Verstappen's driving conduct  as "over the limit" after landing a drama-filled victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to pull level in the title race.

Hamilton and Verstappen will head to the final race of a remarkable Formula One season tied on 369.5 points, the Briton prevailing in Jeddah on Sunday after a race dominated by their intense rivalry and a string of controversies.

Having started on pole, Hamilton lost the lead after diving into the pits on lap 10 following Mick Schumacher's crash that brought out the safety car, with a subsequent red flag allowing Verstappen to change tyres without using a pit stop.

The Mercedes driver looked to have got ahead on the restart, only for Verstappen to illegally maintain the lead by going beyond track limits, with several crashes behind the pair forcing another red flag. Esteban Ocon was on pole for the second restart, but Verstappen – after Red Bull agreed to cede position to Mercedes – surged down the inside of both Ocon and Hamilton to take the lead again.

Yet a series of virtual safety cars kept Hamilton in touch with Verstappen and the Dutchman went beyond track limits again on lap 37 to remain in the lead on turn one.

Red Bull instructed Verstappen to give the place back but, as he slowed to do so, Hamilton crashed into the back of him, accusing his rival of "brake-testing" him.

Verstappen's second effort at letting Hamilton past, which he did successfully before using the DRS zone to immediately take the place back, was deemed unsatisfactory.

The third time proved the charm and a five-second time penalty and tyre degradation ended Verstappen's hopes, setting up a thrilling finale next Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

The battling drivers were set to go before the stewards in the meantime, and speaking to reporters after the race, Hamilton said: "For me, I really had to try and just keep my cool, which was really difficult to do.

"I've raced a lot of drivers through my life, I've come across a lot of different characters, there are few that are over the limit, rules don't apply. I just tried to keep my car on the track, do it the right way."

On the collision, Hamilton said: "He obviously brake-tested to try to get the DRS into the last corner. I thought that I lost my wing.

"He's over the limit. I've avoided collision on so many occasions with the guy. I didn't get the information [that Verstappen was conceding position] so I didn't really understand what was going on, it was very confusing.

"The message started coming through as he hit the brakes so hard. It will be interesting to see what happens [with the stewards]."

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    Team principals' driver of the year result: 1. Max Verstappen 213, 2. Lewis Hamilton 192, 3. Lando Norris 110, 4. Carlos Sainz 85, 5. Charles Leclerc 70, 6. Fernando Alonso 69, 7. Pierre Gasly 64, 8. George Russell 44, 9. Valtteri Bottas 43, 10. Esteban Ocon 41.

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