F1 preview: Abu Dhabi run-through as Verstappen and Hamilton go head-to-head
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Former driver Ralf Schumacher has reprimanded Max Verstappen for the Red Bull star’s aggressive driving style in his battle with Lewis Hamilton for the Formula 1 world title. The 2021 F1 season has been one of the greatest years in the sport’s history thanks to the titanic world championship race between Mercedes Red Bull rivals.
The two men have won 17 races between them this season, with the Dutchman claiming nine victories to Hamilton’s eight and they head into the finale of the year level on points.
Their rivalry has been one for the ages, with the two colliding at Silverstone and Monza before last weekend’s dramatic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where drama and controversy reigned.
Sunday’s crazy race saw two red flags, multiple virtual safety car interventions and five drivers crash out before Hamilton won his eighth race of the season to level the drivers’ standings.
The pair collided on lap 37 when Verstappen slowed down to let Hamilton past after the Dutchman had been ordered to return the place to the seven-time world champion – but Hamilton wasn’t aware of the instruction, and instead rammed into the back of the Red Bull.
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Hamilton insisted his rival ‘brake-tested’ him while Verstappen declared he was simply trying to let the Brit pass.
Either way, Schumacher – whose brother Michael is tied with Hamilton for the most championships in F1 history – was not a fan of Verstappen’s actions.
“Max brakes when Lewis drives past. That wasn’t a clean manoeuvre,” Schumacher told Sky Germany.
“He was punished for it afterwards. Braking on the straight is forbidden to avoid that.
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“They were both slow. You have to imagine that at higher speeds. Cars and parts can fly through the air. That is very, very dangerous.”
Verstappen was awarded a 10-second penalty retrospectively by the FIA but Schumacher does not believe to was enough.
“The penalty was mild. You could see that the FIA did not want to interfere and gave a penalty that actually does not exist, as it did once for Lewis Hamilton,” added the German.
“The FIA is certainly also one of the losers of the race. I think that should have been sanctioned a little harder. This ‘brake testing’ is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres in motorsport. You can’t do that.
Schumacher is aware that Verstappen can drive closer to the limit and take a number of risks in these final races as the Dutchman can win the world title if both he and Hamilton fail to score points.
“He can still take risks. They are tied on points, but he has more wins,” Schumacher confirmed.
“That means, if both of them don’t finish, he would be world champion. That’s interesting, but also the danger in it.
“Hamilton knows that too, who has often withdrawn.”
The travelling F1 party are now at the Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale this Sunday.
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