Lewis Hamilton made his opinion on Max Verstappen’s driving style known following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix where the pair nearly collided in the fight for the 2021 title.
The incident occurred on Lap 37 when Verstappen seemed to ‘play a tactic,’ according to Hamilton, after being told to give back first position to the Mercedes during the race.
The Dutch driver was told by Red Bull to do it “strategically,” and so he slowed significantly at turn 26, however, according to stewards “it was obvious that neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3.”
Hamilton damaged his front wing during the incident but still managed to cross the finish line in first to win the race – meaning he and Verstappen are now equal in the driver’s standings ahead of the final round.
Meanwhile, Verstappen was handed two penalty points and a ten-second deduction – but he still managed to hold on to second place despite this.
Airing his frustrations after the race, Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “I really had to just try and keep my cool out there which was really difficult to do.
“I’ve raced a lot of drivers through my life in the 28 years [of racing] and I’ve come across a lot of different characters and there are a few at the top which are kind of over the limit. Rules kind of don’t apply, or don’t think of the rules.”
Asked if Verstappen fell into that category, Hamilton replied: “He’s over the limit, for sure.
“I’ve avoided collision on so many occasions with the guy and I don’t always mind being the one that does that because you live to fight another day, which I obviously did.”
Hamilton then accused Verstappen of “brake testing”, and suggested that his closest competitor was “playing some sort of crazy tactic?” when approaching the DRS detection line.
In their ruling on the incident, stewards said: “Whilst accepting that the driver of Car 44 [Hamilton] could have overtaken Car 33 [Verstappen] when that car first slowed, we understand why he (and the driver of Car 33) did not wish to be the first to cross the DRS.”
Toto Wolff has since agreed with his world champion driver, and said what Verstappen tried in Jeddah was “over the line”.
“It’s hard, very hard, maybe over the line hard,” he said.
“We just want to have a clean championship – may the best man win – and if it’s Max at the end then I have peace with that. But it needs to be a fair race.”