Red Bull chief admits to ‘naughty’ Verstappen moments in Hamilton fight

Red Bull chief Adrian Newey has conceded that Max Verstappen was guilty of 'silly' and 'naughty' moments during his thrilling title battle with Lewis Hamilton last season.

The Dutch driver won in dramatic and controversial circumstances in the final race in Abu Dhabi, which served as the latest flashpoint in a battle that saw a number of incidents flare up throughout the season. In the latter stages of the campaign, the first of those incidents occurred at Interlagos at the Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen forced his rival off the track – though Hamilton was able to fight back to win the race from 10th position.

Two races later, in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a number of incidents occurred between the pair and Verstappen was told via team radio to concede his position to Hamilton but the Brit crashed into the back of the Red Bull, accusing Verstappen of brake-checking him.

Verstappen stated his actions were merely to ensure he was behind Hamilton for the DRS detection zone but those claims have been rebutted by Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey, who offered his verdict on last season's fight for the title.

“What’s great about Max is you always know what the car is capable of because he always gets in it and wrings its neck. His feedback is good, he’s very aware of what the tyres are doing and how to manage them. I think his reputation for being wild is unfair," he told The Race.

“Probably what he did in Brazil last year was a bit naughty. Saudi was silly. I think he got frustrated with Lewis not overtaking him but he still shouldn’t have brake-tested him.

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“But Silverstone to me was a clear professional foul [by Hamilton] and people seem to have a short memory. They brand an individual and it takes time for that to go. He’s very easy to work with, very open. You ask him to do things and he will always try.”

Verstappen's title defence this season has so far seen Hamilton out of the picture, with Mercedes struggling, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has swiftly emerged as the greatest threat to his crown.

The Ferrari driver currently leads the way in the Driver's Championship with a 27-point advantage over Verstappen ahead of this weekend's inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

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