Hamilton has gone down in Verstappen's estimations

By Sports Desk December 09, 2021

Max Verstappen's opinion of Lewis Hamilton has changed for the worse during their dramatic title tussle across the 2021 season.

The two drivers head into the final race of the Formula One campaign with the title on the line after Hamilton won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to move level on points with the Dutchman in the drivers' championship.

Verstappen has the advantage as the pair prepare to meet in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, with the Red Bull driver holding the edge on races won (9-8), which means he will clinch his first title if Hamilton does not better his result.

The two contenders have endured a tumultuous relationship throughout the year after colliding three times, the most recent of those coming last weekend when the Briton hit the back of Verstappen's car.

Verstappen, though, incurred a 10-second time penalty for slowing down without due caution – to compound an earlier five-second punishment for gaining an advantage by leaving the track – and Hamilton could be heard on the radio furiously questioning his opponent's behaviour.

Asked whether his opinion of Hamilton, who is aiming for a record eighth championship triumph, and Mercedes had changed during the season, Verstappen said on Thursday: "Yes, very much so and not in a positive way.

"Clearly only I was wrong somehow [for the collision in Saudi Arabia], like I said other people do exactly the same thing and get nothing.

"Both of us were off the track into turn one and somehow they judged that it was my fault, that I don't agree with.

"The other penalty [causing the collision] as well I don't agree with, then afterwards [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, it's not fair because it seems like other drivers can do different things, and it seems like only I get a penalty."

Before the weekend's finale, FIA director Michael Masi issued a reminder of the rules, stating drivers can be punished with a points deduction if they are deemed to have intentionally crashed into their rival.

Masi added that stewards may decide to impose race bans for any untoward behaviour, but Verstappen insisted he would congratulate Hamilton if he wins fairly, even if he would not sit down for dinner with him. 

"I don't think we need to sit down," Verstappen told reporters at the news conference. "We are both here to win. 

"I will do of course everything to win and win the championship, whatever is necessary in terms of points. 

"I think we have raced really well together the whole year and I think we have put on a great show for everyone at the end of the day. So hopefully we can do that here."

Related items

  • Espargaro and Vinales sign new two-year Aprilia deals Espargaro and Vinales sign new two-year Aprilia deals

    Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales have signed new two-year deals with Aprilia.

    The Spanish duo will continue to ride for the MotoGP team until at least the end of the 2024 season.

    Espargaro will go into the Italian Grand Prix this weekend third in the battle for the title, having secured one win and three podium finishes this season.

    Vinales continues to adapt to the RS-GP, but is 10th in the standings.

    "This confirmation [of the new contracts] was just what the doctor ordered," Espargaro said. "We've worked hard together and grown together.

    "We were a hope, now we are reality. In 2021, we had already seen clear signs of our steps forward and now we are able to battle consistently with the best in the world.

    "Continuing to do so with Aprilia is a source of pride for me. We can grow even more and we want to demonstrate that on the track."

    Vinales stated: "I'm extremely happy to continue my work with Aprilia Racing. Now our horizons are expanding and we'll be able to work with continuity to achieve ambitious goals.

    "I believe in this project and I'm happy to be part of it. I've found a fantastic environment in Aprilia and this confirmation gives me the peace of mind to grow the way this team and I deserve to."

  • Can Leclerc lift his Monaco curse with Red Bull in control? Can Leclerc lift his Monaco curse with Red Bull in control?

    Formula One has arrived at the most prestigious race on the calendar, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc would be desperate to end an awful run of form at his home race.

    Born and raised in Monaco, Leclerc's string of bad luck on the historic circuit dates back to his days in Formula Two, where he set the F2 lap record in 2017 before suspension problems caused a DNF.

    The next year, in F1, he was in the points for Sauber before brake failure led to a crash with Brendan Hartley.

    After poor strategy and Q1 elimination in his first Monaco Grand Prix for Ferrari in 2019, Leclerc charged up the field early on but pushed a little too hard and collided with Romain Grosjean at Rascasse.

    In 2021, he surprisingly stuck an inferior Ferrari on pole position but crashed at the end of Q3, and extensive drive-shaft damage led to him cruelly retiring on the formation lap.

    The 24-year-old became the first Monegasque to claim pole, but his three DNFs – from as many F1 entries – are his most at any circuit.

    Despite ending up in the barriers on a demonstration lap in Niki Lauda's Ferrari last week, another pole could finally put Leclerc on the top step in his home race.

    Twelve of the past 17 winners at Monaco have started from pole, as little room to overtake with bigger cars on Monte Carlo's notoriously tight streets makes track position critical.

    It would be a welcome way for Leclerc to buck his trend of failing to convert poles into race victories, winning only four times from 13 starts at the front of the grid.

    The title race adds another dimension, with Max Verstappen taking a six-point lead from him in the drivers' standings after successive victories at Imola, Miami and Barcelona.

    In-form Red Bull with records in sight

    Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, and this weekend could bring a number of records for the team.

    This weekend could see Red Bull claim their highest number of race wins (six), pole positions (six), podiums (24, with both drivers) and points earned at a circuit, surpassing the 356 collected in Spain.

    Meanwhile, reigning world champion Verstappen has the chance to record the longest winning streak of his career, beating last year's three wins between France and Austria.

    Ricciardo in need of renaissance

    Daniel Ricciardo has come under criticism from McLaren team principal Zak Brown for his recent performances, with a clear need for improvement.

    The 32-year-old suffered one of the lowest points of his career last year in Monte Carlo, when he was lapped by teammate Lando Norris.

    Ricciardo is suffering his worst streak of finishes outside the points (three) since 2012, when he had five consecutive empty-handed returns for Toro Rosso.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 110
    2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 85
    4. George Russell (Mercedes) 74
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 65

    Constructors

    1. Red Bull 195
    2. Ferrari 169
    3. Mercedes 120
    4. McLaren 50
    5. Alfa Romeo 39

  • Lewis Hamilton labels Barcelona recovery 'better than a win' after clinching fifth Lewis Hamilton labels Barcelona recovery 'better than a win' after clinching fifth

    Lewis Hamilton says his fifth-placed finish at the Spanish Grand Prix felt "better than a win" after he recovered from a first-lap puncture that left him in 19th position.

    Starting from P6, Hamilton suffered the puncture following contact from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen on the first lap in Barcelona and suggested to his Mercedes team he should retire from the race to preserve the car's engine after rejoining at the back of the field.

    But the seven-time champion produced an excellent drive after his enforced pit-stop and looked on course to finish fourth before a coolant leak allowed Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to edge him out late on.

    Speaking after the race, Hamilton considered the circumstances he was forced to overcome en route to a strong points finish.

    "To have that problem and come back, it felt like some of the older races I've done," Hamilton said. "It feels amazing.

    "I was thinking it was impossible to get back into points, but the team said 'no, you're on for eighth'. I thought they were being super-optimistic.

    "I'm glad we didn't [retire] and it just shows you never stop and never give up, and that's what I did.

    "A race like that is like a win, and it actually feels better than a win when you have come from so far back."

    Since losing out on a record eighth world title in the closing seconds of the final race of the 2021 campaign, when Max Verstappen clinched his first championship in controversial circumstances, Hamilton has endured a frustrating time.

    The 37-year-old, who has only secured one podium this campaign, has been critical of Mercedes' W13 car on numerous occasions this year, calling it "undriveable" after finishing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last month. 

    But Hamilton believes the team's work on the car has improved it greatly, and he suggested he could have joined team-mate George Russell – in third – in challenging the two Red Bull drivers, who secured their second one-two in three races, if not for his early problems.

    "We have made a lot of improvements with the car and the race pace is much better, the car is much nicer in the race," he added. "We have some improvements to make in qualifying.

    "If I hadn't had that [issue], I would have been fighting with the Red Bulls."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.