Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen does not expect to be penalized for his much-discussed maneuver in his fight with Lewis Hamilton during the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. “And if it does, it won’t be the end of the world,” the World Cup leader said brightly in his preview of the Qatar GP next Sunday. “If I get the chance, I would repeat that action,” he also replied when asked.
On lap 48 of the race at circuit Interlagos, Hamilton wanted to pass Verstappen from the outside and take over the lead, but the Dutchman did not give that space and forced the British rival to drive off the track to avoid a collision. The race management reviewed the incident on video footage during the race, but saw no reason to intervene.
“As drivers we know exactly what we can and cannot do in a car,” Verstappen emphasized. “We were fighting hard and braking late into the corner, while the tires were quite worn. If I had gone a little more abruptly to the left, I would have turned off the track.”
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Hamilton was able to overtake Verstappen later in the race, on lap 59, and then drove to victory. Verstappen finished second and saw his lead in the world championship fall to 14 points.
Mercedes officially protested the state of affairs in São Paulo on Tuesday. According to Hamilton’s racing stable, Verstappen had indeed crossed the line. Mercedes wants to demonstrate this during a hearing with video images made from the cockpit of the Dutchman and which the race management did not have during the race.
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Doha and is intended to determine whether Mercedes can legitimately have the incident reassessed. In the worst case, that new investigation by the stewards could lead to a mistake by Verstappen being found. The Red Bull leader is still threatened with a penalty.
“Again, I don’t expect that, because I think it was hard and fair racing between two men competing for the championship. It wouldn’t have been an easy pass anyway because I’m not like that and I don’t think it should be when you’re fighting for the world title.”