Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton ‘have an obligation to be sporting’ and a controversial clash in the final two races to decide the title would be ‘sad’ for Formula One, claims Damon Hill
- Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are pushing each other to the very edge
- They have clashed on more than one occasion this season to fuel controversy
- Damon Hill, who won the 1996 title, feels like a further clash would stain the title
- F1’s season gets to its penultimate race this week with the Saudi Arabian GP
Damon Hill has warned Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen that they have an ‘obligation’ to be sporting and that a collision in the final two races to decide the world title would leave a cloud over Formula One.
Verstappen heads to the penultimate race in Saudi Arabia with an eight point lead over his Mercedes rival, who has won the last two races in Brazil and Qatar.
And while Hill accepts that it would be ‘hard to resist’ defending aggressively if the title came down to the final race, controversy would stain whoever emerged as the victor after what has been a breathtaking season.
Max Verstappen (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right) are fighting it out to win the Formula 1 title
They have clashed many times this season, including in Monza (pictured), as tensions run high
‘I think it would be sad for F1,’ Hill, a pundit for Sky Sports F1, told Sportsmail.
‘We have an obligation to be sporting. I know sport is seen to be a bit naive to expect footballers or whatever to not do the occasional foul but it would be great if there was a way of resolving it, not amicably, but to satisfaction.
‘You want to come away from this with a great championship that has been fought by two worthy opponents and the best man and the best team won. You don’t want that kind of thing hanging over the championship at the end.’
Bad blood between Mercedes and Red Bull has been obvious prior to the summer break with Verstappen and his team seething at Silverstone when a collision with Hamilton ended his race and saw him taken to hospital.
There is bad blood between the two title rivals with jibes exchanged in media briefings
On the track, Sky F1 pundit Damon Hill believes the pair ‘have an obligation to be sporting’
It was Hamilton’s turn to be furious in Monza when Verstappen came up behind him as he exited the pit exit and having hit a curb his Red Bull glided over the top of Hamilton’s car – and head – ending both of their races.
So, it has been wheel to wheel for much of the season and much the same is expected in Jeddah for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
Momentum is all with Mercedes having won the last two races and Hill, who won his only driver title in 1996, feels the drama and tension on display is akin to something fans expect to see over on Britain’s Got Talent.
‘There’s definitely pressure and anxiety because it’s getting so close, so tight,’ he added.
‘All that hard work and there must have been times this season where they thought this is do-able and when you see the gap closing it does (add pressure). I wouldn’t say it creates panic in the ranks, but it must be exhausting.
‘It’s been hard work for everyone involved and the stresses are starting to show.
Hamilton has won two races since changing his engine and has closed the gap to Verstappen
‘The tensions between the team bosses was something I’ve not seen before. Usually they would take place over phone calls in Bernie’s office years ago. But to actually put it on display like that in the press conference was a new thing where it was a little bit like watching Britain’s Got Talent… it’s publicly probing for the weak-spots in people’s persona which was slightly uncomfortable to watch but I suppose it’s understandable.’
In recent seasons Hamilton had long already wrapped up the world championship and so this campaign has captivated audience like few in recent memory.
Many who are not long-time motorsport fans are dictating their weekends around the races and Hill feels the Verstappen-Hamilton soap opera, as well as the hit Drive to Survive Netflix series, has been brilliant for the sport.
He added: ‘This is a boom time for F1. The introduction of the Netflix soap opera, whatever you want to call it, winter behind the scenes show, has opened a window or door on F1 which hadn’t been seen before properly.
‘We’d seen fly-on-the-wall documentaries but they were usually from the perspective of just one team and they had this rather stilted, one-dimension take with a strong message that we are the best team, end of story.
Verstappen pushed Hamilton wide off track in Brazil but Red Bull star escaped punishment
Hamilton had one of his best-ever drives to win the Brazilian Grand Prix earlier this month
2021 DRIVER STANDINGS
1. Max Verstappen – 351.5 points
2. Lewis Hamilton – 343.5 points
3. Valtteri Bottas – 203 points
4. Sergio Perez – 190 points
5. Lando Norris – 153 points
6. Charles Leclerc – 152 points
7. Carlos Sainz – 145.5 points
8. Daniel Ricciardo – 105 points
9. Pierre Gasly – 92 points
10. Fernando Alonso – 77 points
11. Esteban Ocon – 60 points
12. Sebastian Vettel – 43 points
13. Lance Stroll – 34 points
14. Yuki Tsunoda – 20 points
15. George Russell – 16 points
16. Kimi Raikkonen – 10 points
17. Nicolas Latifi – 7 points
18. Antonio Giovinazzi – 1 point
19. Mick Schumacher – 0 points
20. Nikita Mazepin – 0 points
‘But the Netflix series has shown F1 warts and all and it’s shown the reality of the stresses and I’m sure this winter coming we’ll be very keen to see what’s been going on in the Red Bull camp and the Mercedes camp!
‘What it’s proven to me is that it’s opened it up to a new generation. The children of my friends, families of my friends, never had any interest. They never came up to me and asked what I did for a living, never said “you’re a racing driver, what’s that like?” They weren’t interested – until Netflix. Now it’s “wow, F1 is amazing!” Never interested until now.
‘This is a great season and we haven’t had a season like this for a long time.
‘I saw a graphic of the points difference between teams over the last 10 years and it’s so close. I can’t remember a season where a title contender has lead, and then been behind, then lead again, so often. Maybe there’s one more swap to go!’
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article