Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children
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Max Verstappen may have proved ‘the gloves are off’ by snubbing the podium ceremony after Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix defeat. Lewis Hamilton won a controversial race, in which Verstappen was handed a 10-second time penalty and picked up two penalty points for causing a collision with his title rival.
Pressure will be mounting on the Dutchman, who led the Drivers’ Championship by 19 points after his Mexican Grand Prix triumph in November.
Hamilton’s three successive wins have drawn him level on points at the standings’ summit, setting up an exciting climax in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Verstappen felt hard done by in the Saudi race’s aftermath after his issues stemmed from being told to hand Hamilton the lead back over illegal defending of the inside line on lap 37.
And Sky Sports’ commentators picked up on Verstappen ditching the podium ceremony early, snubbing the traditional photos the top three pose for, clearly indicating his frustration with the outcome.
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F1 expert Martin Brundle said: “He walked off the back. He does not want any part of that.
“He clearly feels very aggrieved that he had to give the lead back having offered the lead back, but there was contact.”
David Croft believes Verstappen’s post-race actions prove the ‘gloves are now off’ heading into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“Verstappen doesn’t want to celebrate on that podium tonight. If the gloves weren’t off before, they certainly are now,” Croft added.
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The 24-year-old was criticised for poor sportsmanship for storming off the stage following a rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’.
He picked up his champagne bottle, traditionally sprayed by the three drivers, and without looking at Hamilton, exited the picture.
It was a terrible outcome for Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship, too, with Valtteri Bottas joining the two rivals on the podium.
Bottas pipped Esteban Ocon to the finish line with metres to spare, handing Mercedes a 28-point lead in the standings.
They’re on course to win an eighth consecutive constructors’ title, and Hamilton securing a record drivers’ success on Sunday would mark the perfect end of a scintillating season.
However, Verstappen and Red Bull will now be as determined as ever to have the last laugh.
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