Will there be an escalation between Hamilton and Verstappen?


After the desert madness of Saudi Arabia, there is the highest crash alarm in the poisoned World Cup duel between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for the Formula 1 final.

In Verstappen and Hamilton, for the second time in the history of the motorsport premier class, two rivals race in lockstep in points in the ultimate title showdown with a cold, uncompromising attitude. Jeddah could have been the ugly foretaste – is there really a bang between Red Bull and Mercedes in Abu Dhabi?

“Now it’s all or nothing,” stated Hamilton’s team boss Toto Wolff after a thriller on the Red Sea for the big cinema screen.

369.5. After Hamilton’s 103rd career victory before Verstappen, the two exceptional drivers will head to the Yas Marina Circuit with equal points next Sunday – that was otherwise only in 1974 between McLaren driver Emerson Fittipaldi and the defeated Clay Regazzoni from Ferrari.

The fatal catch for Hamilton: Because the Dutchman has won one more race this season (9: 8), failure of the two would mean the 24-year-old’s first world title.

Wolff doesn’t believe in escalation

“We want to win the title on the track, not in the race control or in the gravel,” assured Red Bull team boss Christian Horner after the permanent adrenaline rush on Sunday. “It was an uphill battle all year round. There were some fantastic races. I hope it will be a fair and clean race in Abu Dhabi.”

Wolff also expressed this hope. “I don’t think it will escalate,” he said. “Today there were so many warning shots for everyone involved that it will and has to come off cleanly. Nobody can afford to come up with a result that was not achieved on the track.”

The race management was practically in constant use at the premiere in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city. Verstappen even received a total of 15 seconds time penalty for two different incidents due to dangerous or illegal driving.

The Red Bull man drives to the limit – or even beyond. He was “definitely over the limit”, complained Hamilton about his rival after the excitement scene and cursed him as a “crazy guy”.

“It’s not Formula 1 for me, but …”

What was it about? Verstappen had left the track illegally towards the end of the race and was told to let Hamilton pass by on the instructions of his team to avoid a penalty. According to reports, this message did not get through quickly enough at Mercedes, so that Hamilton found it “confusing” when Verstappen suddenly slowed down. The Mercedes driver raced into the rear of the man in front.

With a damaged front wing, the seven-time world champion nevertheless managed to cross the finish line in front of his opponent and presented himself in world championship form with his third Grand Prix victory in a row in time for the end of the season.

“I wanted to let him pass, so I’m on the right side, but he didn’t want to overtake, and then we touched. I really don’t understand what happened there,” said Verstappen, who immediately ran away at the awards ceremony made. “I just try to race. In this sport nowadays it’s more about penalties than racing. For me it’s not Formula 1, but at least the fans had fun.”

Horner counters Hamilton

Hamilton was also astonished – about what, in his opinion, were dangerous driving behavior of Verstappen. “I definitely have the feeling that there have been situations where that has been the case,” said Hamilton. “It’s not the first time I’ve had to avoid a collision, and it is right now.”

Hamilton and Verstappen had already collided at Silverstone and Monza. Red Bull didn’t want its star driver to be labeled a scapegoat.

“This is how these guys have ridden their entire careers, and Lewis shares the same way. It’s very clever the way he does it at times,” said Horner. Cunning, tough, unfair. In the World Cup duel, the boundaries are almost fluid.


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