Hamilton v Verstappen: Their careers in numbers
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Lewis Hamilton went level with Max Verstappen at the top of this season’s F1 leaderboard at the weekend as he won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and claimed the fastest lap. The arch-rivals will battle it out for the title on Sunday at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton slammed Verstappen at the weekend due to the Dutch racer’s driving style and said he was “over the limit.”
Verstappen was forced to cede his lead to Hamilton on lap 37 after gaining it illegally. But the 24-year-old appeared to apply his brakes hard and the Briton ended up driving into the back of the Red Bull car, damaging his front wing in the process.
Red Bull chiefs defended their driver in the aftermath of the incident, despite Mercedes management voicing their concerns.
But Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has now broken rank and has decided to side with Hamilton over the collision.
Marko had initially said the team were “working to prove Max’s braking pressure did not increase when he crashed with Hamilton.”
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But he has now changed his position on the incident.
“At the time of the television interview, I passed on exactly the information I had previously received from the engineers,” Marko told f1.insider.com.
“They obviously weren’t right, so I’m sorry.”
Verstappen was slapped with a 10-second penalty and two penalty points on his licence following the clash after already being hit with a five-second penalty earlier in the race.
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But Marko is the first Red Bull insider to admit Verstappen was to blame, with team principle Christian Horner and the driver denying all responsibility.
“That was a race that was very difficult to manage,” Horner admitted.
“I think we feel hard done by with the five-second penalty and in the incident where Lewis has driven up the back of Max.
“They’ll go and explain in front of the stewards, but Max was trying to give the place up. We informed race control we were going to give the place up.
“He lifted off – I think you can hear Lewis has lifted off. I don’t know if he was messing around for the DRS line there.”
Verstappen said: “To me this is not Formula One,” before later adding: “I slowed down – I wanted to let him by.
“I was on the right but he didn’t want to overtake and then we touched. So I don’t understand what happened there.”
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