Verstappen is 'over the limit', says Hamilton after Saudi clash


Lewis Hamilton has accused Max Verstappen of brake testing him after the pair collided at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton hit Max Verstappen in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

A collision of miscommunication, says Coulthard

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has accused Max Verstappen of being “over the limit”, and said that he’s had to avoid multiple collisions with the Dutchman, who was penalised when both title contenders came together again in Jeddah.

The reigning champion claimed that Verstappen brake tested him during the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, adding: “It doesn’t matter for him if we don’t both finish”.

Hamilton won the race despite suffering a damaged front wing in the contact with Verstappen, who was found to have braked heavily in front of him.

The Dutchman had been ordered to allow the Mercedes past after taking the lead while cutting a corner. He was given a 10sec penalty for causing the collision, which followed a 5sec penalty for gaining an advantage by running off track.

“He obviously brake tested, I think to try and get the DRS into the last corner to overtake me again back into Turn 1,” said Hamilton to Sky Sports F1. “I thought that I lost my wing.

“I really had to try and just keep my cool out there which was really difficult to do.

“I’ve raced a lot of drivers in 28 years. I’ve come across a lot of different characters and there’s a few at the top which are kind of over the limit. [For them, the] rules kind of don’t apply.”

Asked if Verstappen fell into that category, Hamilton replied: “He’s over the limit for sure. I’ve avoided collisions 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.

“I’m personally chilled. I feel like I’m in the boxing ring and I’m ready to go.”

Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Verstappen passed Hamilton off-track at the first restart and handed back the place after the race was stopped again

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Speaking immediately after the race, before the penalty for causing a collision was imposed, Verstappen described his 5sec punishment as “unbelievable”.

“I’m just trying to race and this sport these days is more about penalties than about racing,” he said.

“For me this is not Formula 1 but at least the fans enjoyed it.”

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Hamilton spoke about the “crazy curveballs” sent during the race, which featured two restarts, multiple safety car periods and a fraught battle with his title rival.

The drama peaked when Verstappen slowed to allow Hamilton past, after having taken the lead off-track. The Dutchman said that he slowed to let his rival by and didn’t “really understand” what had happened.

Hamilton, using the same phrase, said that he was also confused because he hadn’t got a message that the switch would take place.

“I didn’t really understand what was going on, it was very, very confusing,” he said. “All of a sudden he’s started backing up and then kind of moving a little bit.

“I was like, ‘is he trying to play some kind of crazy tactic? I don’t know’. Then also the message [about the switch] started coming through, just as he hit the brake so hard and I nearly went up complete the back of him — took us both out.

“It doesn’t matter for him if we don’t both finish. For me, we both need to finish and but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

A stewards’ inquiry found that Verstappen had braked heavily, generating a 2.9g force, to let Hamilton through at the fastest point of the Jeddah circuit. As a result, he was “predominantly at fault”.