Jos Verstappen: I don't think Max will ram Hamilton in final grand prix

By Sports Desk December 07, 2021

Max Verstappen's father does not believe his son will resort to ramming title rival Lewis Hamilton off the road in the final race of the Formula One season in order to win the championship.

Hamilton won an extraordinary Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday to move level on points with Max Verstappen in the F1 drivers' championship.

Heading into the final grand prix in Abu Dhabi next Sunday, Verstappen has the edge on races won (9-8) and so will clinch his first ever title if Hamilton does not better his result.

If neither driver finished in the points – or finished the race – that would also seal Verstappen's triumph.

Asked by the Daily Mail whether his son is likely to sacrifice his own race to take out Hamilton, Verstappen's father and former F1 driver Jos said: "I don't think that will happen.

"Max absolutely wants to win. He will definitely go for it. He will clearly try to beat him. He will do everything to get the win, that's for sure. It will be exciting."

Ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP, Jos had discussed Max's relationship with Hamilton – as well as his own.

"I never speak to Lewis," the 49-year-old told the Daily Mail. "He doesn't need to speak to me. I'm nothing to him. I respect him as a driver, but the rest... nothing.

"Max and Lewis only speak on the podium, very little. When I see Max with other drivers, I think they get on very well. But with Lewis, nothing. Lewis is in his own world."

Verstappen received a pair of penalties in Jeddah, the second for causing a collision with Hamilton when he braked suddenly.

Hamilton was critical of Verstappen when asked if he thought his rival drove dangerously, saying: "I definitely feel that there were scenarios where that was the case.

"This is not the first time that I've had to avoid a collision, that's how I felt at the moment, but you know sometimes you say things in the heat of the moment and you go back and re-watch things and then you maybe feel differently. But in the moment, that's how it felt.

"I really just tried to recompose myself and chase down and keep fighting."

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    3. Mercedes 120
    4. McLaren 50
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    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.

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    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.

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    The reigning world champion claimed his third consecutive Formula One victory in Barcelona on Sunday, profiting after title rival Charles Leclerc retired with a technical issue when seemingly on course to win.

    Verstappen now holds a six-point lead at the top of the standings, an outcome that did not look likely when the Dutchman dropped from second to fourth after spinning in the early stages, as Leclerc built a huge lead.

    The Dutchman also voiced his concerns on team radio as persistent issues with his DRS system hindered his attempts to pass Mercedes' George Russell during a thrilling tussle between the duo.

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    "Of course I went off - I suddenly had a lot of tailwind, so I just lost the rear and went off," Verstappen said about his ninth-lap error.

    "Then I was obviously in the train and trying to pass but my DRS was not always working. That made it very tough.

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    Verstappen insisted his anger on team radio related to his car issues, not at the way Russell was defending his position. 

    "It was more frustration because of my DRS," he said. "It is a great result for the team. The behaviour of the car was good on the softs."

    As for Russell, third place represented a continuation of his strong start to the F1 season with Mercedes even as the team lacks its normal pace.

    The Briton has finished in the top five for all six races so far, with this being his second podium.

    "I gave everything I could do to hold Max off," he said. "I would love to say that [that Mercedes are back], I am proud to be standing here [in the top three]. 

    "It hurt us a lot but when I had the Red Bull in the mirrors all I was doing was the maximum to keep them behind. It is a lot of points on the board for us and well done to Max."

    Next up for the drivers is the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix, which will take place on May 29.

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