Hamilton wins chaotic race

What an insane race at Jeddah with so much drama and controversy in Formula 1’s first Saudi Arabian race, which was twice red-flagged plus the two title rivals clashed twice in ugly and near farcical scenes.

The race had three different pole-sitters for three standing starts, two of which followed heavy accidents that left the long, fast Jeddah track strewn with debris.

There were four virtual safety car periods across an event where Hamilton and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel three times at the first corner – with Verstappen twice being ordered to hand a position back his title rival after completing moves off track.

When he slowed to allow Hamilton by for the latest controversy at that turn, they crashed into each other as Verstappen tried to let Hamilton by on the approach to the final corner in an incident that is being investigated now the crazy contest has ended.

At the first start, Hamilton and Bottas leapt off the line in unison, with Bottas holding his line on the inside run to the first corner to guard against a Verstappen dive, with the Dutchman slotting in behind them in the same third position as he started.

The biggest danger for Verstappen came from teammate Sergio Perez getting very close to his left-rear as the Red Bull driver locked up trying to dive by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari on the outside line.

The move got Perez fractionally ahead of Leclerc but it cost him momentum going around the long right-hander of Turn 2 and the Ferrari was able to pull back ahead and set off after the leaders.

The top three were able to lap in the low one minute, 34 seconds in the early laps, with Leclerc and those behind in the one minute, 35 seconds and slower, which meant there was quickly a gap behind Verstappen.

As Bottas was able to hold the Red Bull at just over a second as the leaders increased their pace into the one minute, 33 seconds as the first ten laps of 50 came to an end, Hamilton was instructed to create a gap to his teammate to avoid the Finn running in too much dirty air and damaging his tyres.

Hamilton’s lead over Bottas had just reached 2.0 seconds – and 3.4 seconds over Verstappen – when the race was interrupted by a safety car period activated after Mick Schumacher lost the rear of his Haas running through the fast left-hand kink of Turn 22 (where Leclerc crashed in FP3 in a very similar incident) on lap 10.

Mercedes called Hamilton in to switch from the mediums to the hards, with Bottas doing likewise, but only after he’d dropped to seven seconds behind the leader, which enraged Verstappen and Red Bull.

Verstappen then did not follow the Mercedes cars into the pits and therefore headed the queue in front of Hamilton, Bottas and fellow non-stoppers Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo, who was the lead runner to have started on the hards.

But after four laps behind the safety car the race was red flagged, which gave Red Bull the chance to change Verstappen’s tyres to the hards and not lose position, which enraged Hamilton, who repeatedly question the need to stop the race before he climbed out his car in the pitlane.

After a near 20-minute stoppage, the race resumed with a second grid start – after Hamilton had complained about Verstappen appearing to do a practice start as he left the pitlane and Verstappen was livid with Hamilton dropping so far behind on the approach to the grid.

At the second start, Hamilton rocketed alongside and past Verstappen immediately, but the Red Bull shot back to the Mercedes’ outside as they braked and turned in for Turn 1, then cut Turn 2 to get back ahead of Hamilton as they both moved wide.

With Hamilton cost momentum moving back left as Verstappen rejoined ahead, Ocon nipped by to run second as he had passed Bottas when the Finn locked up at the first corner.

In the pack behind, Leclerc spun Perez into the wall as they ran side-by-side on the exit of Turn 2, with the Red Bull having been just ahead as they race around the ensuing Turn 3 right, and that set off a chain reaction that led to Nikita Mazepin rear-ending George Russell – unsighted as the Williams and others braked ahead.

Perez, Mazepin and Russell were out immediately, with the race red flagged again for 20 minutes as the wreckage was cleared.

During the stoppage, Red Bull and Mercedes had a series of radio calls with race director Michael Masi, who suggested Verstappen accept being moved behind Ocon and Hamilton for the third standing start or he would refer the Turn 1 incident the stewards.

Red Bull accepted the decision and so the grid formed up again, with the top three split on tyre strategy – Ocon and Hamilton still on the hards and Verstappen back to the mediums, as was Ricciardo and Bottas behind him.

When the lights went out for a third time, latest polesitter Ocon found Hamilton immediately alongside him as the raced away from the front row, but Verstappen swerved from the outside line to cut off Ricciardo and then dive down the inside of both leaders at Turn 1.

Hamilton touched Ocon after a brief jink right as Verstappen shot down his inside, with the Alpine cutting Turn 2 after going deep at Turn 1 following the light touch with the Mercedes and Ocon rejoined in front of Verstappen before swiftly handing first place to the Red Bull.

Verstappen opened up a 1.3 seconds lead by the end of lap 17, the third restart lap, with Hamilton then breezing by Ocon on the approach to Turn 1 at the start of the following tour.

That set up the latest duel between the two title rivals at the head of the pack, as they quickly pulled clear of Ocon, who was five seconds adrift by the start of lap 20, swapping fastest laps as the only drivers able to lack in the 1m32s bracket.

On lap 23 the race was interrupted again – this time because of a virtual safety car activated after Yuki Tsunoda and Sebastian Vettel getting together at Turn 2 and the AlphaTauri’s front wing needing to be recovered from the run off.

The suspension was short and at the very end of the following lap the race went green again and Hamilton’s chase of Verstappen resumed – their pace immediately reaching the 1m31s.

But second and third VSC activations were needed so more debris could be cleared in the tours approach the lap 30 mark – following Vettel having a clash with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 4 after his clash with Tsunoda, for which the AlphaTauri driver was given a five-second time addition penalty, had dropped him down the order.

The third VSC was much longer than the second and lasted from lap 29 to a few corners into lap 33, at the end of which Verstappen had a 1.2s lead, but the full speed conditions lasted just three further tours as another piece of debris needed to be recovered under a fourth VSC from the entry to Turn 14.

But that interruption lasted just a few seconds, with then Hamilton getting a close run behind Verstappen at the start of lap 37 – passing the Red Bull with DRS on the outside run to Turn 1.

But Verstappen again stayed on the inside and both went deep, much like at Turn 4 at Interlagos, with the Red Bull then sliding wide and cutting Turn 2 and staying ahead as both went off the track.

Red Bull instructed Verstappen to let Hamilton by later on lap 37 and he slowed on the approach to the final corner – where the Mercedes went into the back of the Red Bull in confusing scenes for both, which ripped off the right-side of his front wing.

After a few laps with Verstappen still ahead, during which Mercedes and Masi argued over what had happened on the run to Turn 27, the Red Bull driver again slowed to let Hamilton by at the same corner – but this time, once the Mercedes was through, Verstappen nipped back ahead to retake the lead as they rounded the left-hand hairpin.

In the aftermath of that incident as lap 43 began, Verstappen was handed a five-second time addition penalty and he then appeared to slow again to let by Hamilton at the final corner.

This time, Verstappen attacked back on the outside, with Hamilton getting a warning for edging him into the runoff as the Briton stayed ahead.

Hamilton moved clear from there as Verstappen’s mediums began to give up and he backed off to make the finish, 11.8s adrift, with Hamilton having enough pace despite his damage to secure the fastest lap.

Ocon lost third to Bottas on the line as the second Mercedes used DRS to overcome the Alpine – having battled by Ricciardo a few laps earlier and started a late charge to rescue a podium.

Pierre Gasly finished sixth ahead of Ferrari pair Leclerc and Sainz – the former having lost ground after the third restart – with Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris rounding out the top ten.

So a chaotic race full of incidents. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in taking victory and the championship now goes down to the wire in the season finale.

Race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:06:15.118
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +11.825s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +27.531s
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +27.633s
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +40.121s
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +41.613s
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +44.475s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +46.606s
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +58.505s
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +61.358s
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +77.212s
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +83.249s
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari +1 lap
– Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes DNF
– Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari DNF

4 thoughts to “Hamilton wins chaotic race”

  1. Race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton won a controversial debut Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas amid two red-flag stoppages. The result means the two championship protagonists go to the Abu Dhabi finale level on points.

    Hamilton led Bottas and Verstappen – who shrugged off his qualifying crash – at the start but on Lap 10, Mick Schumacher spun and hit the Turn 23 barriers. The Safety Car soon turned into a red flag, crucially giving Verstappen a free stop in the pits, while the Mercedes had stopped under yellows.

    The Lap 15 standing start saw Hamilton lead, but Verstappen went wide and off-track at the first chicane, cutting back across Hamilton, who dropped to P3 behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (who also enjoyed a red flag tyre change and the subsequent advantage). However, there were two separate incidents behind in which Sergio Perez was collected by Charles Leclerc and Nikita Mazepin collided with George Russell – so another red flag was called.

    A cacophony of bargaining calls by the Red Bull and Mercedes pitwalls followed but the Lap 17 restart would see Ocon start ahead of Hamilton then Verstappen in P3. In that restart, the Dutchman made a terrific move using his brand-new medium compounds down the inside of the opening chicane for the lead while Hamilton found himself impeded by Ocon, who like Verstappen missed the Turn 2 apex, passing the Alpine a lap later.

    Three Virtual Safety Car periods followed from Lap 28 to Lap 36 after which Hamilton was in DRS range of Verstappen. The Mercedes driver attempted a move on Lap 36 on the main straight but the Dutchman braked too late for comfort, running wide at Turn 2 and retaining the lead. He was instructed to give P1 back and on Lap 37 the Red Bull driver slowed – only for Hamilton to get caught off guard and clip the rear of his rival, taking front-right wing damage.

    Cue more calls to race control from Red Bull and Mercedes. Meanwhile Hamilton closed in and looked to get past the Red Bull on Lap 42 but Verstappen pushed him wide and continued on. This time, the stewards stepped in and put a five-second time penalty on the championship leader.

    Hamilton came across Verstappen at the final corner on Lap 43 and pushed him wide at Turn 27, taking the lead and putting in fastest laps to boot for an eventual winning margin of 10s over his rival – equalling the championship points tally.

    Ocon, who had benefitted from a stop during the first red flag, missed out on a podium by just a tenth of a second having lost P3 right on the line at the chequered flag. That put the Alpine driver fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, who started 11th but enjoyed a rapid start and a red-flag pit stop for P5.

    In sixth was Pierre Gasly, who lost places at the start but made them back in the second race restart for AlphaTauri – keeping the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in P7 and P8 respectively.

    Antonio Giovinazzi started 10th but ended up ninth ahead of Lando Norris, who started on softs but pitted during the first Safety Car to end the race on hard tyres.

    Abu Dhabi hosts the season finale, and with Hamilton having taken 26 points to Verstappen’s 18 here, the championship protagonists are now equal on 369.5 points. But the fallout from Jeddah may well continue through the night, with the stewards set to investigate Hamilton and Verstappen’s Turn 27 tussle after the race.

    The spotlight was centred on Verstappen before this race, the championship leader having hit the wall in qualifying to trigger doubts over the integrity of his gearbox – but he started from third on the grid, as was the plan. There was also concern over Theo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittpaldi, who were admitted to hospital after a heavy crash in the preceding F2 Feature Race on Sunday, and a moment of reflection before the Grand Prix as teams united to pay their respects to Williams co-founder Sir Frank Williams, who last week died at the age of 79.

    But there could be no greater tribute to Sir Frank than a high-speed, no-holds-barred, Formula 1 Grand Prix. Saudi Arabia, however, provided more than a Sunday’s worth of high drama.

    The front would line up so: Hamilton leading team mate Bottas away on the front row while Verstappen shared row two with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez leading AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly off the third row. Mediums were the compound of choice and the only soft-tyred starter was McLaren’s Lando Norris from P7; McLaren team mate Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel on hards.

    After much colourful fanfare, it was time for the main event.

    And Hamilton enjoyed a rapid start, his team mate blocking Verstappen, who was nearly collected Perez behind – the Mexican locking up to avoid contact. Leclerc held station in P4 while Gasly fell two places to P8 with overheating brakes, promoting Norris one place and Esteban Ocon two, to P6 and P7 respectively.

    Hamilton’s mediums were five laps older than Verstappen’s, so Bottas’s job was to keep Verstappen at bay and the Finn soon said: “I could do with a bit more gap in front” as he began to feel the effects of Hamilton’s turbulent wake. But the field would soon bunch together when Mick Schumacher spun and crashed at Turn 23 on Lap 10, triggering a Safety Car.

    The leader pitted for hards along with team mate Bottas and Red Bull’s Perez – for mediums – while Verstappen stayed out for track position. The Dutchman was left furious, however, as during the caution Bottas appeared to slow considerably in front of him to ensure a sublime double-stacked pit stop for the Silver Arrows. But the ball soon fell into Verstappen’s court, the race red-flagged on Lap 13 for barrier repairs – giving Verstappen a free tyre change in the pits.

    After the 18-minute stoppage, Verstappen would therefore lead a title-defining standing restart alongside Hamilton in P2, Bottas in third and Ocon fourth – having swapped tyres during the red flag along with Ricciardo in P5.

    On Lap 15 of 50, the lights once again went out.

    Hamilton got the best of Verstappen, squeezing his rival wide. The Dutchman ran back onto the track and cut back across Turn 2 into the lead – making slight contact with the Mercedes – with the Briton dropping to third behind Ocon. Meanwhile, Bottas locked up and dropped to fifth behind Ricciardo.

    Chaos reigned behind: Perez was squeezed then tagged by Leclerc, while Mazepin hit a slow-going Russell, ending the races of both the Williams and the Haas. As for Perez, he waved away the marshals in an attempt to get going but those efforts proved arbitrary. He was out on Lap 15, as were the red flags once again.

    While the spectators caught their breath, the teams attempted to bargain their way up the grid in the pits. Race Director Michael Masi chimed into the Red Bull pitwall, and said: “I’m going to give you the opportunity to start the race from grid position two”.

    They retorted: “We will accept P2 on the basis that Ocon is on pole.”

    Mercedes’ pit wall on the other hand lobbied Masi to put Ocon on pole, Hamilton second and Verstappen third for the restart.

    The order would indeed be Ocon in first, Hamilton second and Verstappen third – on brand-new medium compounds – for a standing start on Lap 17.

    Ocon led away but Hamilton attempted to edge in front, the two making contact while Verstappen sliced down the inside of Turn 1 with a terrific move. Ocon cut across the Turn 2 run-off but instantly yielded to Verstappen who was now in the lead. On Lap 18, Hamilton swept by the Alpine for P2 and was now back on the charge.

    Hamilton was within a second of his championship rival by Lap 22 and one lap later he would have DRS. A Virtual Safety Car was soon called on Lap 24 as Yuki Tsunoda – up to P9 in the second restart – tagged and spun Sebastian Vettel and lost his front wing at Turn 1, the AlphaTauri driver taking a five-second penalty for his troubles. Soon after, Kimi Raikkonen tried to pass Vettel but made contact with him, leaving the track showered in carbon fibre – with another VSC coming out on Lap 30 as a result.

    That VSC period, during which Verstappen’s medium tyres enjoyed a welcome break, lasted until Lap 33, after which the Red Bull once again led away. But soon Hamilton was within DRS range. And then on Lap 36 another VSC was called to retrieve another piece of Vettel’s car. That was brief, and resumption followed seconds after with Hamilton just seven-tenths off the leader.

    The Briton attempted a move on the Dutchman with DRS down the main straight on Lap 37 and had his nose ahead, but Verstappen braked late and prevented his rival from leading. The Red Bull ran off track and retained the lead but was soon instructed to give it back. So he slowed on the back part of the circuit – only for Hamilton to get caught off guard and clip the rear of his car, taking wing damage too. Team Principal Toto Wolff’s headphones took the brunt of his anger; Race Control’s switchboard lit up once again.

    On Lap 42 Hamilton closed in once again and, again, seemed to have the best of Verstappen at Turn 1. But the Red Bull driver afforded him little space, Hamilton going off track at Turn 2, and Verstappen continued in the lead. However, this time, the stewards stepped in and gave the championship leader a five-second time penalty. Two laps later, Hamilton attempted another pass at the final corner – but this time shoved Verstappen wide and took the lead.

    Hamilton lit the sectors purple for fastest lap and eventually won by 11.8 seconds to level the championship standings, his rival finishing runner-up in perhaps the most intense battle of the season.

    Bottas finished third having passed Ricciardo at Turn 1 for P4 on Lap 40, then Ocon for P3 on the final lap at the line. Ocon therefore missed out on the final podium place by just 0.102s.

    In fifth was Daniel Ricciardo, who benefitted from pitting (along with Ocon) during the first red-flag stoppage. The McLaren driver also enjoyed a terrific start, making up two places from P11 and blasting past Pierre Gasly, who finished sixth having lost places early on before making them back up on the first race restart.

    Charles Leclerc started fourth but took seventh – after contact with Perez on the first restart – having duelled with Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz for much of the race, even going wheel-to-wheel with the Spaniard on Lap 23.

    Antonio Giovinazzi made up one place from P10 to P9 while Norris, who dropped to 14th at the first restart having pitted early from soft to hard tyres, took the final point.

    Neither Aston Martin emerged from Q1 on Saturday and neither left Saudi Arabia with points, as Vettel retired on Lap 44 having taken damage from earlier contact with Tsunoda and a further run-in with Raikkonen, while Lance Stroll made contact with Russell early in the race and had to settle for 11th ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, in P12.

    Fernando Alonso did well to avoid the walls as he spun on Lap 26, but dropped to P15, picking up positions as Tsunoda was penalised five-seconds for hitting Vettel and Raikkonen was relegated to the back having made contact with the four-time champion battling for P12 on Lap 28.

    Five drivers – Vettel, Perez, Mazepin, Russell and Schumacher – retired from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

  2. Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell believes “motorsport has a lot to learn” from a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and says its Jeddah’s Corniche street circuit needs to be made safer.

    Russell was eliminated from Sunday’s race, which was red-flagged twice, after being smacked from behind by the Haas of Nikita Mazepin on lap 16, as the bunched up field streamed through the first sector following a restart.

    Russell was taking avoiding action for Red Bull’s out of control Sergio Perez, who was spun round by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

    The Briton just managed to slow down to avoid the Mexican, but behind him Mazepin was powerless to avoid hitting the back of the Williams through one of Jeddah’s many blind sections.

    While all drivers escaped without injuries, the type of accident was exactly what many drivers and observers were fearing due to the circuit’s combination of extreme high speed, limited visibility and run-off areas.

    According to Russell, the incident was “pretty inevitable” and believes the track is not safe enough to race on.

    “It seemed pretty inevitable, you go around a Turn 2 that’s fairly wide and open – cars can go side by side – and then it really funnels in and goes pretty narrow pretty fast,” he told Motorsport.com right after his exit.

    “I came around a blind corner, cars were everywhere, I slowed down and then got completely hit from behind.

    “So, a lot to learn I think for motorsport this weekend, because it’s an incredibly exhilarating and exciting track to drive but it’s lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.

    “And there are unnecessary incidents waiting to happen in all of these small kinks that are blind, which are not even corners in an F1 car, but they just offer unnecessary danger.”

    With Formula 1 due to revisit Jeddah in March next year, Russell hopes the organisers and the FIA will make the necessary changes to improve safety around the track.

    He thinks a lot of “unnecessary risks” can be removed by straightening out some of the blink flat-out kinks.

    “I think you live and learn from these experiences,” he explained. “You can’t blame anybody for trying to make an incredible racetrack and ultimately, that’s what they achieved. But I think nobody foresaw what was about to happen with all of these blind corners.

    “In my opinion, yeah, track changes are needed, you’ve got so many of these small kinks that are totally unnecessary.

    “And that could all just be made into a straight line from Turn 2 to Turn 4 and just be straight from Turn 17 to 22. We’ve got five corners, which is a section which is totally easy flat out, even with the DRS.

    “I don’t know what the limitations are, that also needs to be looked at. And ideally, if that was made into a straight line the safety would drastically improve.

    “I think they’ve got the resources to do it here, so it shouldn’t be a limitation. Safety needs to come first.

    “If you can improve the danger drastically with small changes, then it’s a no brainer.”

    The collision between Russell and Mazepin happened after the race was red flagged a first time for a crash by the second Haas of Mick Schumacher on lap 13.

    The race was also interrupted by numerous Virtual Safety Car interventions to clear debris.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was not impressed by the race stewards and complained that ‘F1 more about penalties than racing’ after Saudi Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Max Verstappen has blasted Formula 1 as being “more about penalties than about racing” after a controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix blighted by multiple incidents with title rival Lewis Hamilton.

    The Red Bull driver finished second on-the-road to Hamilton in an ill-tempered race at the Jeddah street circuit that was twice red-flagged, with a five-second penalty added to his race time for gaining an advantage by driving off the track.

    He has also been summoned by the stewards for an alleged breach of the FIA International Sporting Code for an incident with Hamilton at Turn 27 when the Mercedes driver alleged that Verstappen brake-tested him.

    Verstappen had been ordered by his team to let Hamilton through, having run wide at Turn 1 to repel Hamilton’s DRS-assisted move, when he slowed suddenly on the back straight heading into the final corner and Hamilton ran into the back of him.

    Having stayed in front of Hamilton after this contact, he then heeded the order to let the Mercedes by into the final corner before immediately diving up his inside again.

    The Dutchman was then given a five-second penalty, and as his medium tyres began to wear, was overtaken by Hamilton’s hard-shod machine.

    Verstappen had earlier been told to give up positions to Esteban Ocon and Hamilton for the second restart, following a pileup induced by Sergio Perez’s mid-pack spin, after driving over the Turn 1 run-off to stay ahead of Hamilton.

    Verstappen was awarded the driver of the day, and in an interview immediately after crossing the line, he vented his displeasure at how the race unfolded.

    “Luckily the fans have a clear mind about racing because what happened today is unbelievable,” he said.

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

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

    “I gave it all today but clearly not quick enough. But still, happy with second.”

    Speaking to the media after the race, Verstappen reiterated that he didn’t agree with the decisions made by race control.

    “A lot of things happened, which I don’t fully agree with, but it is what it is,” he said. “I mean, at least I tried it on track, you know, to give it all.”

    Asked directly about the clash with Hamilton, for which he has been summoned to the stewards, Verstappen said: “I slowed down.

    “I wanted to let him by, so I’m on the right but he didn’t want to overtake and then we touched.

    “I don’t really understand what happened there.”

    Verstappen and Hamilton are currently tied on 369.5 points heading to next weekend’s Abu Dhabi championship decider, with the Red Bull driver ahead on countback.

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was left confused by ‘sudden’ Max Verstappen braking in Turn 27 incident. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton says he doesn’t understand why Formula 1 title rival Max Verstappen braked “suddenly” in their messy on-track battle in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    Hamilton won the race to level the points battle with Verstappen on 369.5 apiece after multiple incidents in an ill-tempered race that was red-flagged twice.

    Verstappen made good use of the medium tyres chosen by his Red Bull team took for the third race start by taking the lead with a daring move up the inside of Mercedes driver Hamilton and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.

    But the hard tyres Hamilton had chosen helped him come back into the contest as Verstappen’s tyres began to fade, the seven-time world champion forcing Verstappen into a mistake at Turn 1 on lap 37 when the Dutchman’s attempt to defend his lead resulted in him running both cars wide over the run-off.

    After he was ordered to let Hamilton through, Verstappen slowed dramatically on the approach to the final Turn 27 left-hand hairpin, and the two made contact as the Mercedes ran into the back of the race leader.

    There followed a verbal disagreement between Mercedes team manager Ron Meadows and FIA F1 race director Michael Masi over whether the positional switch had been communicated, with Hamilton accusing Verstappen of brake-testing over the radio.

    Verstappen then kept the lead, ceded to Hamilton briefly before overtaking again, but ultimately lost out to Hamilton again before being given an additional five-second post-race penalty for gaining an advantage outside the track.

    Verstappen has also been summoned to the stewards to discuss an alleged breach of the FIA International Sporting Code concerning the Turn 27 incident.

    Speaking after the race, Hamilton said he found the altercation “a bit confusing”.

    “I didn’t quite understand why suddenly [Verstappen] hit the brakes pretty heavily,” Hamilton said.

    “I ran into the back of him, and then he moved on. So I didn’t understand exactly what was going on.

    “I got a message afterwards that he was going to let us past. So it was a bit confusing.”

    Hamilton said that during the “incredibly tough” race he’d focused on trying to “be as sensible and as tough as I could”.

    The Briton had dropped behind Ocon at the second start when Verstappen, who had been promoted to pole by not pitting under the safety car for Mick Schumacher’s crash which soon became a red flag, attempted to hold onto the lead around the outside of Turn 1 and drove off the track before forcing Hamilton wide.

    “I tried to be as sensible and as tough as I could be out there, and with all my race experience over the years, just keeping the car on track and staying clean – that was difficult,” he said.

    “But we persevered as a team. We’ve had all sorts of things thrown at us during the second half of the season, so I’m just really proud of everyone.”

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