Qatar Grand Prix: Max Verstappen not expecting punishment after Lewis Hamilton incident

Qatar Grand Prix: Max Verstappen not expecting punishment after Lewis Hamilton incident

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
Dates: 19-21 November. Venue: Losail International Circuit
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website. Text commentary on website and app.

Max Verstappen does not expect officials to take any further action over him forcing Lewis Hamilton off the track in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Stewards will rule on Friday whether Mercedes’ request for the incident to be reviewed is admissible after hearing their argument on Thursday.

Verstappen said: “I don’t expect [any punishment] to happen because I thought it was hard and fair racing.”

But he told 5 Live “it’s not going to change the world” if he was penalised.

If the stewards reject Mercedes’ argument, the matter will go no further. If officials accept the evidence is genuinely new, then a second hearing will be convened to analyse the move again.

The incident in question happened on lap 48 of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Hamilton tried to overtake Verstappen around the outside of Turn Four but the Red Bull driver ran wide and both ended up off the track in the run-off area.

The Mercedes driver passed Verstappen 11 laps later and went on to win, cutting his deficit to the Dutchman in the championship to 14 points.

Race director Michael Masi discussed the move with stewards during the race, but they decided an investigation was not necessary.

Mercedes have lodged a right of review of the incident after claiming to have discovered new evidence that was not available at the time.

This is believed to include on-board camera footage from both cars that was not downloaded until after the race.

Hamilton later said he “wouldn’t expect anything else”, adding: “It was fun. This is what a world championship battle should look like.”

But on arriving at the Qatar Grand Prix, he said: “The reason I would say that is that’s the mentality you have to take.

“If you sit in the car in the moment and complain it will only hold you back. Also it’s difficult to judge something you’ve not seen all the angles. We looked at it and I have a different viewpoint now, naturally.”

The seven-time champion declined to elaborate.

Max Verstappen

Verstappen told BBC 5 live in an exclusive interview: “It was not an ‘incident’. We didn’t touch. I was just trying to defend my position.

“We are both racers and we are fighting for the championship and I am not going to make it easy; the other way around it would have been exactly the same. That’s why we were battling hard.

“I had fun. OK, I finished second and I’m not happy to finish second, but he was behind me, he was very fast, and I tried my best to keep him behind.

“You don’t make it easy. He got by and they won the race and fair enough they just had a better race than us. I left there, it was a tough race but I enjoyed it.”

Verstappen’s move was controversial because the F1 rules say: “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc said: “If this is allowed, then overtaking around the outside is going to be very difficult.”

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo said: “You know you are going to get raced hard with Max. But was that too hard? Who knows? I’m going to stay out of it. You could say it was too hard because both went off the track, neither made the corner.”

Listen to the interview with Max Verstappen in 5 live Formula 1 on Friday at 21:00 GMT.

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