Hamilton passes Verstappen to be victorious in Brazil

With a grid penalty heading into the Sao Paulo Grand Prix following an engine change, then a shocking disqualification over a DRS technical issue after being on pole, Lewis Hamilton drove a brilliant, fighting race in both the sprint and the main race to take victory.

Hamilton charged from tenth on the grid to win the Interlagos race, beating world title rival Max Verstappen in a thrilling and controversial wheel-to-wheel duel.

Verstappen took second position ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with the Red Bull driver getting a warning from the FIA for his defending against Hamilton at one stage, although escaping an investigation for an incident that had both title contenders going off track at Turn 4.

At the start, in a near repeat of the sprint race getaway, Verstappen this time accelerated better from the left-hand side of the grid and was immediately alongside polesitter Bottas, who hung on around the outside of the first corner.

But Verstappen ran the Mercedes out wide on the exit of the first part of the Senna Esses to seal the move and take the race lead.

Just behind, Lando Norris got an excellent start to shoot alongside the slow-starting Carlos Sainz in third, with the McLaren going far to the right of the track as it passed the Ferrari, but as Norris drifted back left in preparation to taking the first corners, the two touch and the Briton picked up an immediate puncture.

While he ran off track and fell to the rear of the pack, Valtteri’s slower movement through the opening corners after being nearly fully off track at the exit of Turn 1 meant Perez was able to get alongside him as they raced down the second straight.

As the braked for the downhill Turn 4 left at the end, Bottas slid wide as he could not hold his speed on the tighter line, giving Perez third as the following Ferraris – led by Charles Leclerc after Sainz’s poor start – and Pierre Gasly also briefly shot through the Turn 4 runoff.

Verstappen had a 1.2-second lead over Perez at the end of the first lap of 71, by which point Hamilton had already gained three positions in the start melee from his tenth grid slot and then passed Sebastian Vettel to take sixth at the start of lap two.

He passed Sainz and Leclerc at the same spot in successive laps, with Bottas then ordered to pull over at the start of lap five and give his teammate third place.

But on the following tour the race was neutralised by the safety car, which was dispatched so the marshals could clear a significant amount of debris at the opening turns, which followed Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda – the only driver not to start on the mediums, the AlphaTauri running the softs from the off – clashing at Turn 1 as they fought over 12th and Tsunoda losing his front wing.

The race restarted on lap 10, with Verstappen waiting until he was halfway down the grid hatchings before blasting clear, with the two Red Bulls able to stay out of Hamilton’s attack range behind.

Verstappen immediately restored his lead to 1.3 seconds over his teammate, who had Hamilton just 0.4 seconds behind, but the race was then neutralised by the virtual safety car as the marshals needed to clear more debris at Turn 1 – this time stemming from a clash between Mick Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen at the rear of the pack, which the Haas with a badly damaged from wing.

The race went green again halfway through lap 14, with Verstappen’s advantage maintained and Hamilton so back at Perez’s rear once again.

The top four then quickly pulled clear of the Ferrari pair, lapping in the low-mid one minute, 14 seconds with the rest back in the one minute, 15 seconds and slower.

Perez asked Red Bull to get Verstappen to give him DRS as he fought to keep Hamilton at bay, but the leader continued to pull clear, his lead 2.4 seconds at the start of lap 18.

Here, Hamilton used DRS to get a rapid run to Perez’s outside and he jumped ahead with a brilliant move late on the brakes at the plunging left-hander, but the Mexican fought back with DRS down the second straight and retook second with a similarly impressive move to the outside of that left-hander.

A lap later, with Verstappen’s lead up to 3.7 seconds as the following pair squabbled, Hamilton made an identical move but this time Perez could not stay in his wake and the Mercedes driver was clear in second.

He initially cut Verstappen’s gap by a few tenths running in free air, but the leader then gradually responded and increased his advantage back towards the four-second mark as their mediums began to fade.

Now a two-horse race up front, Mercedes brought Hamilton in at the end of lap 26 to take the hards, with Verstappen being brought in at the end of the following lap.

Although Hamilton’s undercut advantage was reduced by having to pass Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, the earlier move to the fresher rubber meant he cut Verstappen’s advantage to just over a second.

After the leaders negotiated a second VSC starting on lap 30 – called for more debris falling off Stroll’s car as he raced by Nicholas Latifi down the main straight, a legacy of his earlier shunt with Tsunoda, for which the Japanese driver was handed a ten seconds time addition – Hamilton was running just out of DRS threat behind his title rival.

Red Bull reassured Verstappen he was continuing to be quicker in the middle part of lap, as he had all weekend, with Hamilton’s less-draggy car faster along the straights that make up most of the rest of the lap at Interlagos.

By this point Bottas was back to third as he gained by pitting under the VSC, which meant he was able to jump Perez, who had made a green-flag pitstop the lap after Verstappen.

The gap between the leaders ebbed and flowed ever so slightly over the next ten laps, with Red Bull then pulling the trigger first to kick off the second round of stops at the end of lap 40 – Verstappen coming in to get a fresh set of hards.

Mercedes left Hamilton out for three extra laps, after which he rejoined 2.6 seconds behind – having briefly looked like he might be left out to run long, as he was at Austin.

Hamilton was much quicker early in the third stint, setting a string of fastest laps in the low one minute, 12 seconds and high one minute, 11 seconds, which meant he carved into Verstappen’s lead and finally reached DRS range.

On lap 48, just after Hamilton had made a small jink to the inside of Turn 1, to which Verstappen reacted, the Mercedes was close enough to mount an attack into Turn 4.

Although Hamilton got ahead on the outside line, Verstappen fought back on the inside and steamed back towards Hamilton, the pair both going off track on the exit of the left-hander, but with the Red Bull still ahead.

The incident was noted by the stewards but they decided not investigation was necessary, which frustrated Mercedes in its broadcast discussions with race director Michael Masi.

Verstappen held his lead at just under a second over the next phase of the race – at one point weaving down the second straight, which earned him a black/white warning flag, as Hamilton had a second attack into Turn 4, this time failing to get far enough alongside the Red Bull mean Verstappen had to defend as firmly as he did before.

But on lap 59, Hamilton again forced Verstappen to react to a little look to the inside of Turn 1, which again meant the Red Bull was slower down the second straight after being on a less than ideal line through the rest of the Esses.

Hamilton was therefore much closer with DRS and this time got ahead before the braking zone, the world champion sweeping from the outside to the inside just before Turn 4 and sealing the move into first place.

He edged clear over the final 12 laps to win by 10.4 seconds, as Bottas could not heed Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s rallying cry to “go and get” Verstappen – the Finn finishing 3.0 seconds, behind Verstappen in third.

Perez was set to finish not far behind Bottas in fourth before Red Bull pitted him for a third time to take softs right at the end, which he used to set the fastest lap on the final tour, as behind him Leclerc led Sainz home in fifth and sixth for Ferrari – the Scuderia giving its drivers a slightly different two-stop approach with mediums for the first two stints.

Gasly battled by the one-stopping Alpines late-on to recover seventh on his two-stopper, with Fernando Alonso leading Esteban Ocon in eighth and ninth.

Norris took the final point after his lap one time loss was negated by the safety car and he rose back to the points – aided by teammate Ricciardo retiring late-on with a power problem and Stroll also parking his car in the pits not long before Ricciardo.

So an exciting Sao Paulo Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton suffering so many penalties and yet the impressive speed meant he won the race from Max Verstappen. This was Hamilton’s victory number 101 and one of his finest in the sport. Kudos!

Sao Paulo Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32:22.851
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +10.496s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +13.576s
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda +39.940s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +49.517s
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +51.820s
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
– Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes DNF
– Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes DNF

4 thoughts to “Hamilton passes Verstappen to be victorious in Brazil”

  1. Sao Paulo race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton won the Sao Paulo Grand Prix after a sensational battle with his rival Max Verstappen in an absolutely enthralling return to Brazil for F1. Verstappen finished runner-up ahead of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.

    Hamilton enjoyed a terrific start from P10 on the grid and was clearly on the charge, team mate Bottas – who lost the lead to Verstappen at the start – letting him for P5 by on Lap 5. Hamilton then took P2 off Perez in a duel that began on Lap 17 and culminated in a Lap 19 pass at Turn 4. The first stops took place around Lap 25 but the action built up to a terrific crescendo after Verstappen took a second stop on Lap 41, Hamilton on Lap 44.

    The Mercedes driver bore down on Verstappen and despite being shoved wide at Turn 4 – the stewards noting but not investigating – on Lap 48, Hamilton didn’t give up, trying it again on Lap 58 only to meet a stubborn defence. A lap later came the winning pass with DRS on the run up to Turn 4, this time Verstappen having no choice but to concede. Hamilton ended up 10.4 seconds up the road in first place at the flag, cutting Verstappen’s championship lead from 21 points to 14 points.

    Bottas, who took an opportunistic stop during the Lap 30 Virtual Safety Car period and another on Lap 41, finished third ahead of Sergio Perez, who started fourth, was up to second, but lost places to the two Mercedes. The Mexican however took fastest lap at the expense of Hamilton, on the final tour, having pitted for softs on Lap 70.

    The Ferraris pulled off a two-stop strategy to see Charles Leclerc home in fifth and Carlos Sainz – who lost three places amid contact with Lando Norris (P10) at the start – in sixth. Pierre Gasly picked off the Alpines after pitting twice, his Lap 50 change to hard tyres heling him pass Esteban Ocon (P9) and Fernando Alonso (P8).

    Norris picked up a puncture on Lap 1 after Sainz nicked his rear-left tyre, but recovered from there to take the final point, his pitstop during a Lap 7 VSC leaving him on hard compounds right until the finish.

    Sebastian Vettel missed out on the final point by a second to Norris ahead, and finished 11th having started P9, his Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll eventually retiring – as did McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

    But it was Hamilton who stole the show here in Brazil – recovering from his disqualification from qualifying on Friday and clawing his way back up to P5 from dead last in Saturday’s Sprint, before he took another grid penalty for an engine change on race day. From P10 he put in the drive of his life – and pulled off an impressive move on his title rival Verstappen to seal the victory in front of an ecstatic crowd at Interlagos.

    The Sao Paulo Sprint shook up the grid on Saturday with Lewis Hamilton given a P10 start for the Grand Prix – demoted five places due to an engine penalty – while Valtteri Bottas swiped the lead off Max Verstappen to start on pole position ahead of the Red Bull driver, Carlos Sainz taking P3 to start alongside Sergio Perez on the second row.

    It was all to play for then as Verstappen held a 21-point lead over Hamilton going into the Grand Prix, the weight of the Briton’s hopes seemed to rest on his team mate Bottas; the weight of the Dutchman’s hopes on team mate Perez. Not to forget the constructors’ fight with Mercedes just two points ahead of Red Bull going into Brazil.

    Moreover, Ferrari driver Sainz had the McLaren of Lando Norris (starting P5) to hold off in order to consolidate the Scuderia’s 14.5-point lead, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was aiming to outscore Alpine’s Esteban Ocon – the pair starting P7 and P8 respectively – with those two teams level on 106 points. And all but AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda would start on medium tyres, the Japanese rookie starting instead on softs.

    Surrounding the starting grid there was a carnival atmosphere, Interlagos’s grandstands heaving with passionate fans, with excitement at fever pitch as the lights went out. And away they went: the front two had great starts but it was Verstappen who had the inside into the esses, aggressively grabbing the lead into Turn 2 while Bottas fell into the clutches of Perez, ran wide at Turn 4, and the Mexican was now backing up a Red Bull one-two.

    Hamilton made up three places to seventh at the start, taking another place off Aston Martin’s Vettel at the end of Lap 1 for P6. And despite getting ahead of the Ferrari, McLaren’s Norris fell to the back with a puncture after contact with Sainz’s front-right tyre. Hamilton took P5 off the Spaniard into Turn 1 on Lap 3, his team mate Charles Leclerc for P4 on the main straight one lap later. He was now just two seconds off team mate Bottas, who graciously let Hamilton through on Lap 5.

    Then the Safety Car came out on Lap 6 for shards of carbon fibre and the front wing of Tsunoda, who had collided into Turn 1 with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll on Lap 4. “Tell Valtteri to follow… let’s get these guys,” said Hamilton as the field filed single-file through the pit lane under caution. The race would resume on Lap 10.

    On the restart, the front four held station despite Leclerc’s attempts to take P4 off Bottas, the Finn defending admirably and doing his utmost not to jeopardise Hamilton ahead. Verstappen was over a second ahead of his team mate by the next lap, Hamilton two seconds behind Perez ahead.

    The green-flag action was brief, a Virtual Safety Car coming out on Lap 12 to clean up debris from Mick Schumacher’s Haas. The rookie lost his front wing in contact with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen in the Lap 10 restart.

    The VSC ended for the race to resume properly on Lap 15 and the Red Bulls continued as before, but Hamilton was rapid and right on Perez’s tail three laps later. The Briton went into the inside of the Mexican and led through Turn 2, but Perez returned the favour on the run up to Turn 4. Verstappen was now enjoying a 3.8 lead. Hamilton came back a lap later on the main straight, around the outside of Perez into Turn 1.

    The lead was held steady by Verstappen but the tyres were beginning to fall off, Hamilton making his team aware of that fact on the radio as the pit window approached. Hamilton decided to bite first, pitting on Lap 27 for a swift change to hard tyres to emerge sixth. Verstappen responded one lap later, his stop also lasting 2.4 seconds, and the Dutchman emerged ahead of Hamilton – but crucially, the Briton had passed Ricciardo just before that, so he was just 1.6 seconds behind Verstappen after the first stop.

    Perez was next to pit, on Lap 29, emerging in P5 to leave Bottas in the lead with Verstappen and Hamilton bearing down on new hard compounds.

    Cue another VSC on Lap 30 for debris off Stroll’s car, during which Bottas took the lucrative decision to stop and emerge well ahead of Perez, in P3. The gap between the leaders hovered around a second and on Lap 40, Mercedes unusually asked Hamilton which tyres he would prefer for a second stop. So Red Bull responded and put Verstappen in for new hard compounds on Lap 41. Then Mercedes pitted their driver – Bottas – a lap later. The game was unfolding, but the Finn had reservations as he asked: “Are you sure about this?” before he quickly took P4 off Leclerc. Perez went in on Lap 42.

    And Hamilton? Number 44 pitted on Lap 44, running second and 1.5 seconds behind leader Verstappen with a fastest lap instantly coming for him. Bottas then remarked on the radio: “I think we just threw away an easy 1-2.”

    Hamilton turned on the afterburners and on Lap 48 he closed in on Verstappen, trying to move around the outside of the Red Bull at Turn 4 – but Verstappen pushed him wide, off the track, and kept the lead. The stewards noted it, while Hamilton continued within a second as the fight continued. And soon we had the message: no investigation necessary.

    “Of course, man, of course,” responded Hamilton on the radio. So the lead battle continued. Just under a second in it. Again, at Turn 4, on Lap 58, Hamilton attempted a move on Verstappen but the Dutchman put up a stoic defence. Another go. Lap 59, Hamilton was within a second of Verstappen and had DRS on the run up to Turn 4. He took no chances and made the move stick around the outside on the straight while his rival was given a black-and-white flag for weaving.

    So from last in the Sprint on Saturday, Hamilton was up to first on Sunday afternoon. He made it count, ultimately winning by 10.4 seconds. After Hamilton made the winning pass, Bottas was told by Toto Wolff to take P2 off Verstappen but that proved an ambitious message; the Finn finished third and just three behind the Red Bull by the flag. That left Perez where he started, in P4, but a Lap 70 stop for softs gave him fastest lap. He took it away from Hamilton on the last of the 71 laps.

    The Ferraris were fifth and sixth – Leclerc ahead of Sainz, who had fallen three places after contact with Norris at the start – having pulled off a two-stop strategy to end the race on hard tyres after two medium-shod stints.

    Pierre Gasly’s two-stop strategy (medium-hard-hard) saw him emerge on newer tyres on Lap 50 and he took P7 having passed Esteban Ocon then Fernando Alonso in the closing stages. Ocon finished eighth, Alonso ninth, in a double-points showing for Alpine.

    Norris shrugged off opening lap contact with Sainz to take the final point in P10, having pitted during the early Safety Car to nurse his second set of hard tyres to the end for more than 60 laps.

    Sebastian Vettel lost two places from his P9 start, but a late stop for medium tyres gave him a chance at taking the final point. He missed out on Norris’s P10 by 1.2 seconds and finished 11th for Aston Martin. Meanwhile, team mate Stroll retired on Lap 50, carrying damage from when Tsunoda (15th) made contact with him on Lap 4. The Japanese driver took a 10-second penalty for his troubles.

    Alfa Romeo’s Raikkonen mirrored Vettel’s strategy and finished 12th – making up eight places as he started from the pit lane – ahead of George Russell, who gained four places to P13 and finished ahead of the other Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, P14, whose second set of medium tyres dropped off towards the end.

    Nicholas Latifi finished 16th having pitted just after the first VSC ended, and kept Nikita Mazepin of Haas away by nearly 42 seconds as the Russian finished 17th. Schumacher finished 18th having made contact with Raikkonen earlier on while McLaren’s Ricciardo retired on Lap 51 with an engine issue.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has described this Brazil Formula 1 comeback victory “feels like the first”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton says his victory in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix “feels like the first” after recovering from 10th on the grid to defeat Formula 1 title rival Max Verstappen.

    After recovering from his qualifying exclusion by charging from 20th to fifth place in the sprint race on Saturday, Hamilton dropped to P10 on the grid for the race due to an engine penalty.

    But the Mercedes driver quickly fought his way up the field, moving into second place behind Verstappen on lap 19 before closing up through both rounds of pit stops.

    Hamilton was forced wide by Verstappen at Turn 4 on lap 48 when he tried to overtake, but ultimately found a way past 11 laps later at the same corner as his car displayed a far superior straightline speed.

    Hamilton eventually crossed the line more than 10 seconds clear of Verstappen, reducing the Red Bull driver’s lead in the championship down to 14 points with three races remaining.

    “Coming into this weekend, I never ever thought that we would be able to close the gap like we have today,” Hamilton said after the race.

    “And then these things, they just kept going against us. But I think it really shows, for everyone, just never give up whatever you’re facing. You have just got to keep pushing, keep tumbling away, keep fighting, and never, never stop fighting.

    “That’s really how I approached this week and [took] inspiration from all around.

    “But it feels like the first because I don’t feel like I have had a win for a long time.”

    Hamilton was congratulated by Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff over team radio, with Wolff saying: “That is how you overcome a 20-place disqualification.” Hamilton replied: “It was 25, but you’re right.”

    Hamilton was joined on the podium by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, whose third-place finish helped Mercedes pull 11 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.

    “The team did an amazing job, Valtteri did a great job today to get as many points as possible,” Hamilton said.

    “I was pushing. I was pushing as hard as I could. But from last on the grid and then another five-place penalty was I think the hardest weekend I’ve had.

    “But my dad reminded me of 2004, when I was in Formula 3 in Bahrain, and I started last and I finished 10th, and I finished first. So this one is for my dad.”

    Verstappen said that Red Bull “tried everything we could” to beat Hamilton and Mercedes, calling it “a good battle”.

    “Of course in the end we just missed a little bit of pace,” Verstappen said.”But we gave it all today and it was a lot of fun.

    “We still have a good points lead you know, so today was a bit of damage limitation on a weekend where it was a bit difficult for us.

    “But I’m confident that the coming races we will bounce back.”

  3. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for Turn 4 move as “laughable”. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Toto Wolff believes the decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for his Turn 4 defence against Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton was “laughable”.

    Verstappen found himself in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Hamilton after the Mercedes driver managed to recover from 10th place on the grid to sit second behind his Red Bull rival.

    Hamilton managed to catch Verstappen and line up a pass on lap 48 around the outside at Turn 4, only for both drivers to run off track under braking.

    Hamilton called the move “crazy” over the radio, but while the stewards noted the incident, they opted against an investigation.

    Verstappen would ultimately lose out to Hamilton after being passed at the same corner 11 laps later, seeing his championship lead fall to 14 points with three races to go.

    Speaking to the written media after the race, Mercedes F1 boss Wolff noted how the “whole weekend went against us” amid the various stewards’ decisions, notably Hamilton’s exclusion from qualifying on Friday.

    “We had a broken part on our rear wing which we couldn’t look at, couldn’t analyse, failed the test, and after disqualified, very harsh,” Wolff said.

    “And then you see on the Red Bull repairs, three times in a row on a rear wing whilst being in parc ferme with no consequence.

    “That’s one thing, and obviously that really peaked with the decision in the race, which was, I mean, really wrong defence from Max, absolutely an inch over the limit, but he needed to do that to defend.

    “Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact and end the race that way.

    “But that was just over the line, it should have been a five-second penalty at least. Probably Max knew that. Just brushing it under the carpet, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    “It’s just laughable.”

    It marked another setback for Mercedes in its fight against Red Bull over the Brazil weekend, having seen Hamilton get excluded from qualifying after the DRS on his rear wing failed a post-session technical check.

    Talking about the Turn 4 move after the race, Hamilton said he “knew that was the decision they would come to, whether it was right or wrong”, but that he didn’t want to get into whether it was fair or not, saying: “It doesn’t really matter, I got the result I needed.”

    Asked by Motorsport.com what he thought the decision would have been had Hamilton made the move on Verstappen, Wolff said: “I don’t want to claim anything on the stewards.

    “I think they have a difficult life anyway. And they are only there to lose, whatever decision they take, one team is going to be grumpy. In that respect, I don’t want to be in this chair.

    “But in a certain way, when you’re taking punches all weekend, and then you have such a situation on top of everything, you’re just losing faith in a way.”

    Wolff said that while he was all in favour of hard racing between drivers, the rules had to be applied consistently.

    “Whatever is in the director’s notes, we’re going to accept,” Wolff said. “I’m also OK if the director’s notes are going to be shredded and we just race hard like we did today, fine.

    “But if the director’s notes say that you cannot push anybody off the track in Mexico, and then obviously that’s valid here too, and then you’re actually being driven off the track, it’s just not very consistent.

    “My discussion with the race director was not broadcasted, but my reaction was. We feel we’ll discuss it behind closed doors.”

    Hamilton is now facing a fresh post-race investigation by the stewards for undoing his seat belts on the cool-down lap to collect a Brazilian flag from one of the nearby marshals.

  4. Max Verstappen’s Turn 4 defence on Lewis Hamilton was “fair”, says Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. Motorsport.com provides the details.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks the controversial Turn 4 incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1’s Brazilian Grand Prix was completely fair.

    The world championship protagonists were fighting for the lead of the race at Interlagos on lap 48 when Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Verstappen at Turn 4.

    However, Verstappen ran wide on the inside line, eventually running off the track on the exit and pushing Hamilton even further out.

    The incident was noted by F1 race director Michael Masi and the stewards, but it was decided that no formal investigation was needed.

    While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that the decision not to punish Verstappen for driving Hamilton off track was ‘laughable’, Horner sees things completely differently.

    Speaking to Sky he said: “It is two guys running hard and Lewis has got a run around the outside.

    “Max has gone in deep and they have both gone wide, so it would have been really unfair to penalise on that.

    “If it was the other way around, I would have let my sporting director have a moan about it but I wouldn’t have expected anything from it.”

    While many observers suggested that Verstappen deserved a penalty for his actions, Horner said that without any contact there was no rules breach.

    “Penalty for what?”he said. “There is no advantage gained and no contact that has been made. I think it is just hard racing between the two of them.

    “I think actually the stewards made the right decision on that. We have talked about this many, many times about the let them race mentality, and I think they made the right call today.”

    F1 has witnessed a number of controversial incidents this year of drivers being punished for forcing rivals wide, amid claims that there is a lack of consistency from the FIA.

    Horner thinks that it is inevitable, though, when a world championship is at stake that such hard racing will take place.

    “With Max, he is going to race hard and Lewis is exactly the same,” he added. “That is two guys fighting for a world championship so it is going to be tough racing. But I think it was fair and there was no contact and they recommenced it a few laps later.”

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