Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made it two wins in as many weekends in the 2021 Formula 1 season, dominating the Qatar Grand Prix to move within eight points of championship leader Max Verstappen.
In F1’s first-ever visit to Qatar, Hamilton was the class of the field all weekend long at the Losail Circuit, and took an easy win from his pole position, shrugging off concerns about tyre wear after several other drivers suffered late punctures.
“It was pretty straightforward, it was pretty lonely at the front,” said Hamilton afterwards. “Of course I enjoy those races where you’re battling through, but we needed those points today, so I thank a real solid job from the team.”
“I’m really grateful for the points, it’s been a hell of a year. To be at this point in the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling and puts us in good stead for the next two races.”
Verstappen’s race was one of damage limitation after being demoted to seventh on the grid for ignoring yellow flags during qualifying, but the Red Bull driver quickly made his way up to second behind Hamilton, with the two title rivals streets ahead of the chasing pack.
Though Verstappen had no answer to Hamilton’s outright pace and had to settle for second place, the Dutchman did at least limit the damage to his championship lead by taking the bonus point for fastest lap away from Hamilton.
Behind the top two, Fernando Alonso rolled back the years with a fine drive to third in his Alpine, marking the first time since 2014 that the veteran had appeared on an F1 podium.
Sergio Perez took fourth in his Red Bull, ahead of Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon on a good day for Alpine.
Lance Stroll finished sixth for Aston Martin, just ahead of the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Lando Norris recovered to finish ninth in his McLaren after a late pit stop following a puncture, with Stroll’s teammate Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top ten.
Verstappen still leads the drivers’ title race with 351.5 points, but Hamilton now sits just eight points behind with 343.5, and the momentum currently seems to be with Mercedes in terms of outright pace as the championship enters its final two races.
In the constructors’ championship, Mercedes lead with 546.5 points, just five points ahead of Red Bull, who closed the gap as Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas failed to score after suffering a puncture.
Formula 1 now visits another new venue for the penultimate round of an enthralling season, with the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah on December 5.
Valtteri Bottas will begin the Sao Paulo Formula One Grand Prix in pole position after edging out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Saturday’s sprint race.
The Mercedes driver completed the 24-lap dash at Interlagos in 29 minutes and 9.559 seconds, 1.170 seconds ahead of championship leader Verstappen. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third fastest, more than 18 seconds off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton, who began last on the grid after his Mercedes failed a technical inspection, charged through the field to finish fifth. A separate five-place penalty for an engine change means the seven-time world champion will start 10th in Sunday’s race.
“I honestly had no idea what was possible. I didn’t set a limit or a maximum,” the 36-year-old Briton said after overtaking 15 rivals in a sublime drive that drew raucous cheers from the appreciative Brazilian fans.
“Then all of a sudden I was chipping away at it much faster…you can’t give up, you’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Bottas clinched three points for the sprint victory while Verstappen extended his lead over Hamilton from 19 to 21 points.
Verstappen began the sprint from the front of the grid but was overtaken early by Bottas, who kept his composure to fend off a late challenge from the Dutchman.
“The start was the key thing for me,” Bottas said. “We gambled a bit with the soft tyre, we knew it would be a benefit at the start and it worked.”
Max Verstappen held off Lewis Hamilton to win an exhilarating United States Grand Prix at Austin Sunday.
The win sees the Red Bull’s driver extend his lead in the 2021 Formula One World Championship.
In yet another captivating duel between the title contenders that went all the way to the final lap, Verstappen withstood heavy pressure from a charging Hamilton on fresher tyres to claim his first victory in the USA.
Starting from pole position, Verstappen lost out to Hamilton at the start, but retook the lead by pitting three laps before the Mercedes driver and taking advantage of his fresher rubber to pump in faster lap times.
The high degree of tyre wear at the Circuit of the Americas meant that two pit stops were the order of the day, but while Verstappen made his second stop on lap 29, Hamilton stayed out until lap 37 before pitting again, eventually emerging 12.5 seconds behind the Dutchman.
With his tyres eight laps younger than Verstappen’s, Hamilton rapidly closed on the Red Bull and had the gap down to 2.6 seconds by lap 47, as Verstappen struggled to carve his way cleanly through the backmarkers.
But just when it seemed inevitable that Hamilton would catch and pass Verstappen, the Briton began to lose momentum in the turbulent air thrown up by the rear of the Red Bull, and Verstappen just managed to eke out his tyre life enough to keep the Mercedes out of DRS range and take a brilliantly composed win.
“Of course we lost out at the start so we had to try and do something else,” said Verstappen afterwards. “The tyre wear is quite high around this track, we went aggressive and I was not sure it was going to work but the last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high-speed corners but super happy to hang on [to win].”
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez survived a malfunctioning drinks bottle to round out the podium places in third place. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took a fine fourth, ahead of the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished sixth after taking a grid penalty for an engine change, with Leclerc’s teammate Sainz in seventh.
Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris took eighth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, and the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten.
Verstappen’s eighth win of the season puts him on 287.5 points, 12 ahead of Hamilton with five races to go. Bottas remains third with 185 points.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes still lead with 460.5 points, but Red Bull have closed up and now have 437.5 points. McLaren are third with 254.
The next round of the 2021 F1 World Championship is next weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix.
BEIJING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) — Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took his first Formula One win in over a year with victory in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retook the lead in the drivers’ championship by finishing second.
Verstappen’s title rival and Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton finished only fifth after starting 11th following a grid penalty, and then disagreeing with his team’s decision to call him in for a late-race pit stop while lying third.
Starting from pole position in damp and slippery conditions that would persist all race long at Istanbul Park, Bottas led away from Verstappen and always seemed to have enough pace in hand to keep the Dutchman at bay.
“It’s been a while but it feels good,” said Bottas of his first win since Russia last year.
“From my side, it was one of the best races I’ve had, ever. Apart from one little slide I had everything under control. I’m glad everything went smooth for once for me. I definitely needed to focus all through the race. A difficult one, but feels like a well-earned victory.”
Behind Bottas, Verstappen was content with second place on a day where Red Bull appeared to have no answer to Mercedes.
“It was not easy today, The track was very greasy and we had to manage the tyres all race so we couldn’t really push. It seemed like Valtteri had more pace and could look after the tyres better as well, so I’m happy to finish second.”
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez took third for his first podium finish in nine races, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth after having briefly led before a late pit stop.
Behind Leclerc came an unhappy Hamilton, who had been lying third after climbing through the field, but dropped to fifth after his team called him in for fresh rubber, overruling Hamilton’s desire to attempt the whole race on one set of tyres.
Had the Briton managed to hold onto third, he would have retained a one-point championship lead over Verstappen, and he took to the radio to vent his frustration at his team’s decision to call him in.
Behind Hamilton, Pierre Gasly took a solid sixth for AlphaTauri, with Lando Norris seventh on a track that did not suit his McLaren. Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz salvaged a fine eighth place after starting 19th following a penalty, ahead of Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin in ninth.
Esteban Ocon was the only driver not to make a pit stop all race long, and the Alpine driver rounded out the top ten.
The result sees the lead of an enthralling drivers’ championship change hands for the fourth time in the last six races, with Verstappen leading the way on 262.5, just six points ahead of Hamilton with six races to go. Bottas is third on 177.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes still lead with 433.5 points. Red Bull remain second with 397.5, and McLaren are third on 240 points.
The next round of the 2021 F1 season is the United States Grand Prix in Austin on October 26.
BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton passed title rival Max Verstappen with six laps to go on Sunday to win the 2021 Formula One Spanish Grand Prix in a brilliant comeback drive.
Starting the race from pole position, Hamilton lost the lead at the first corner to the fast-starting Red Bull of Verstappen, who managed to keep the Briton at arm’s length for much of the contest.
Sensing that Hamilton would not be able to get close enough to attack Verstappen on track, Mercedes called Hamilton in for a second pitstop on lap 43, costing him around 20 seconds but crucially giving him fresher tyres with which to hunt down the Dutchman.
In an intriguing tactical battle, Hamilton made inroads into Verstappen’s lead and duly passed the Dutchman on lap 60 of 66 to take his third win in four races so far in 2021.
“I was just hunting,” said Hamilton afterwards. “I was so close for so long and I didn’t think I was going to be able to make the tyres last. But I just managed to. It was a long way to come back from 20-odd seconds back, but it was a good gamble, a really great strategy from the team.”
“I was about to have a shot at getting past him before I pitted and I was really conflicted. Do I come in or I do ignore the call and stay out? Obviously I did what the team asked and naturally that’s because there’s a great trust between us. Just a remarkable job by everyone in this team. What a day.”
Despite having led the majority of the race, Verstappen took a phlegmatic view of Hamilton’s triumph.
“In a way, I could see it coming,” said the Dutchman, who at least took the bonus point for fastest lap. “At the end, with the softs, he was faster, and then when we were on the mediums he clearly had a lot more pace, he could just stay within one second.”
“There was not much we could have done. They went for another stop and then I knew it was over because I was already struggling with the tyres and you could see every lap he was getting closer and closer. I was just a sitting duck. We were just clearly lacking pace. I tried everything I could.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third, though the Finn might have drawn the ire of his team by not letting Hamilton overtake him as easily as he might have done on lap 52.
Behind the top three, Charles Leclerc took a fine fourth in his Ferrari, with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez in fifth and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo sixth.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz was seventh, ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.
The only driver to fail to see the chequered flag was Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who stopped on lap 7 with a mechanical issue.
Hamilton’s win sees him extend his lead in the drivers’ championship to 94 points. Verstappen lies second with 80 points, with Bottas third on 47.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes lead the way with 141 points. Red Bull stay second with 112, and McLaren are third on 65.
The fifth round of the 2021 F1 season is the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23.
BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) — Aston Martin F1 driver Sebastian Vettel has predicted that Lewis Hamilton will see off the challenge of Max Verstappen and win a record eighth Formula One world championship.
A strong start to the 2021 season by Verstappen has led many to suggest that his Red Bull team will finally break the stranglehold on F1 held by Hamilton’s Mercedes squad, which has swept every available title since 2014.
Hamilton holds a slender lead over Verstappen after the first three Grands Prix of 2021, and speaking exclusively to Xinhua, Vettel backed the Briton to emerge triumphant by the season’s end.
“I think Lewis will come out on top,” the German told Xinhua on the eve of the Spanish Grand Prix at Montmelo. “He’s probably got that little extra bit of experience and knowledge.”
Vettel is well-placed to comment on what it takes to be successful in F1, having won four world championships of his own between 2010 and 2013 while at Red Bull.
The German then moved to Ferrari in 2015 but was unable to break the dominance of Hamilton and Mercedes, and came in for increasing criticism after a series of high-profile mistakes cost him a likely shot at the title in 2018.
Worse was to come in 2019 when Vettel was outscored and overshadowed by new teammate Charles Leclerc, and the German was informed by Ferrari that he would not be retained for 2021 even before a dismal 2020 season was underway.
Though it looked for a time as though the 51-time Grand Prix winner would be on his way out of F1, the 33-year-old was thrown a lifeline for 2021 by the newly-rebranded Aston Martin squad and the deep pockets of its ambitious owner Lawrence Stroll.
“I feel I have something to prove to myself,” says Vettel, whose last win came at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix. “You are racing for yourself, so in that regard, you [always] have something to prove when you step in the car. When I get in the car, I want to make sure that I’m happy; when I get out of the car, I know I’ve done everything that I can.”
In its previous guise as Racing Point, the Silverstone-based team scored regular points and won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix in the hands of Vettel’s predecessor Sergio Perez, prompting many to suggest that the team would remain upwardly mobile into 2021.
However, the AMR21 has thus far proved a tricky beast to tame, with the car’s handling and balance having been affected by a change in F1’s aero regulations for this season. The resultant drop in competitiveness has seen Vettel and teammate Lance Stroll – son of Lawrence – mired in the midfield, and the German admits that the team’s original goals for 2021 have had to be lowered.
“Starting the season, we were aiming for third in the constructors’ standings. I think we reset that expectation a little bit, because currently, it’s quite far away. We wanted the car to perform better, that’s not a secret. It’s not doing what we want it to, [and] it’s not quick enough, but we’re working very hard to make sure that it gets better.”
Vettel will at least have an updated version of the AMR21 at his disposal for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, though the German remains cautious on whether this will vault him up the order.
“Naturally it [raises expectations] when you have updates on the car, but you always have to wait and see. For sure we would like to make a step forward, but it’s always hard to say how big that step is, because you don’t know what others are doing. Maybe others have an update as well. We will see.”
At 33 years old, Vettel is undoubtedly nearer the end of his F1 career than the beginning, and a glance at his recent activities outside the cockpit suggests a man with an increasing interest in sustainability and environmental issues.
While F1 was on a pandemic-enforced hiatus in early 2021, the German used the extra free time to undertake an internship at an organic farm – which included milking cows at 5 am – and has also supported a campaign aimed at restoring bee habitats.
“I think it’s something that we all have to be involved in,” Vettel says of the desire to be more environmentally aware. “I think we all have to drive the change and try to do things in a better way. I think it’s a very fascinating topic, mostly because it’s so relevant. It’s not somewhere far distant in the future. It’s happening already and we all have to do something and be interested to some degree.”
BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) — Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton brilliantly passed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas to make it two wins out of three in the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Starting second on the grid behind Bottas, Hamilton dropped to third behind Verstappen on lap 6 after being caught out by the return to racing speed following an early safety car period.
Undeterred at having lost a position, Hamilton retook second place on the main straight on lap 11 after Verstappen was slow out of the final corner, and passed Bottas in a similar fashion on lap 20 to move into the lead and take control of the race.
“That was such a tough race, physically and mentally, keeping everything together. I didn’t quite get as good a start as Valtteri and then lost out at the restart which was not good,” said Hamilton afterwards.
“I had to try and reposition myself best I could. I think Max made a mistake at some point and that was perfect. With Valtteri, I had to make the move early on before the tyres were destroyed and I just managed to get him at Turn 1. Right on my limit. Great race.”
“There’s a lot to download from today, improvements we can make. It wasn’t all perfect so we will look at those points.”
Behind Hamilton, Verstappen took second place on a day when Red Bull did not appear as comfortable on the harder tyre compound as Mercedes, while Bottas rounded out the top three and also took the bonus point for fastest lap.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez had a lonely run to fourth, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in fifth. Charles Leclerc finished sixth in his Ferrari, with the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso ending strongly to take seventh and eighth places.
Norris’ teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a poor grid position to take ninth, with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was the only driver not to see the chequered flag, after snagging teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on lap 1 and damaging his front wing, with the resultant debris also seeing the introduction of the safety car.
Following his victory, Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship with 69 points. Verstappen sits second on 61 points, ahead of Norris on 37.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes lead the way with 101 points. Red Bull are second with 83 points, and McLaren sit third on 53.
The next round of the 2021 Formula 1 season is the Spanish Grand Prix at Montmelo on May 9.
BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) — Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a superb victory in an enthralling Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton recovered to finish second after sliding off track on Sunday.
A hugely eventful race featured changeable weather conditions, an early safety car period and a mid-race stoppage following a massive crash between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell.
A rain shower just before the race caught many teams out, with Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc notably sliding wide on their way to the grid as the drivers struggled for grip.
Starting third on the grid, Verstappen made the best start on a damp track to pass both teammate Sergio Perez and Hamilton to take the lead after the Tamburello chicane.
After an early safety car period to clear debris from Nicholas Latifi’s crashed Williams, Verstappen maintained his lead and set about building a four-second advantage over Hamilton in second.
As the track began to dry, drivers came in for slick tyres and emerged in much the same order, before Hamilton made an uncharacteristic error and slid wide at the Tosa hairpin, damaging his front wing and causing him to drop to ninth, one lap behind leader Verstappen.
However, almost as soon as Hamilton had slid off, his teammate Bottas tangled at high-speed with the Williams of Russell, with the resulting crash leaving debris strewn across the circuit and forcing the race to be temporarily halted while marshals cleared the wreckage.
The subsequent restart bunched the pack up and allowed Hamilton to charge from eighth to second place and take the bonus point for fastest lap, though he was powerless to do anything about the flying Verstappen, who recovered from a half-spin before the restart to take a comfortable win by 22 seconds.
“It was very challenging out there, especially in the beginning,” said Verstappen afterwards. “It was very hard to stay on track. With tyres degrading in the wet, to choose the right moment to go to slicks is never easy. I had a little moment with my restart but everything else went well today.”
Hamilton acknowledged his rare mistake afterwards, and seemed relieved to have salvaged second place. “One my side, it wasn’t the greatest of days. First time I’ve made a mistake in a long time, but I’m grateful I could bring the car home.”
“There was only one dry line and I guess I was in too much of a hurry to get by everyone. I could see it was wet but [the car] just wouldn’t stop and sent me off. But fortunately we got going again and got some points for the team.”
Behind the top two, a fine drive saw McLaren’s Lando Norris take the final podium place on a weekend where the Briton had looked quick throughout.
The two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took fourth and fifth places respectively in the Scuderia’s most competitive race for some time, with Norris’ teammate Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
Lance Stroll finished seventh in his Aston Martin despite suffering with overheating brakes on his way to the grid, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who salvaged eighth place after a gamble to start on full wet tyres backfired.
Kimi Raikkonen finished a solid ninth for Alfa Romeo’s first points of the season, with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon rounding out the top ten.
Verstappen’s teammate Perez finished a lowly 12th after sliding off while sitting fourth and enduring a scrappy end to his race.
Following the race, Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship with 44 points, but Verstappen is just one point behind in what looks set to be a season-long championship battle between the two. Norris ranks third with 27 points.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes leads the way with 60 points, ahead of Red Bull on 53, and McLaren with 41.
The next race of the 2021 F1 season is the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao on May 2.
BEIJING, March 29 (Xinhua) — World champion Lewis Hamilton took a superb victory in the 2021 Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain, edging out the Red Bull of Max Verstappen after a titanic scrap in the closing laps on Sunday.
Verstappen led the field away from his pole position, but lost the lead to Hamilton after the Briton undercut the Red Bull during the first round of pitstops.
While Hamilton made his second stop on lap 28, Verstappen stayed out until lap 40, setting the scene for a fascinating finale as the Dutchman hunted down the Mercedes on fresher rubber.
Eating into Hamilton’s lead to the tune of around 0.5 seconds per lap, Verstappen finally made his move past the Briton on lap 53 of 56, but exceeded track limits as he did so, forcing him to give the position back to Hamilton.
This hurt Verstappen’s momentum, and the Dutchman crucially fell back out of DRS range of the Mercedes on the following lap, stunting his progress and allowing Hamilton to stay ahead and win a thrilling race by just 0.7 seconds.
“What a difficult race that was,” said Hamilton afterwards. “Stopping early we knew would be difficult but we had to cover Max, they have had amazing performance all weekend. Max was all over me at the end and I was just about able to hold him off. That was one of the hardest races I’ve had for a while.”
Verstappen took defeat with good grace and underlined Red Bull’s perceived competitiveness this year. “It’s a shame but you also have to see the positive. We are really taking the fight to them, and I think that’s great to start the year like that.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished some way behind the leading duo in third, his cause not helped by a slow second pitstop, though the Finn did at least take home the bonus point for fastest lap.
Lando Norris took a strong fourth for McLaren, with Verstappen’s new teammate Sergio Perez salvaging a fine fifth place after starting from the pitlane following a technical issue on the formation lap.
Charles Leclerc took sixth for Ferrari, followed by Norris’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo in seventh in his first race for McLaren. Carlos Sainz took eighth on his Ferrari debut, with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda scoring points in his maiden F1 race with a fine drive to ninth, ahead of Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin.
The next round of the 2021 Formula 1 season is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy on April 18.
Lewis Hamilton took a lucky win in the Brazilian Grand Prix after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen lost the lead in a collision with backmarker Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen was on course for a superb win when Force India’s Ocon left his car on the inside of the Red Bull at the Senna S and pitched it into a spin.
The incident dropped the Dutchman back to second place and although he came back at Hamilton, he could not quite catch him.
Verstappen remonstrated with Ocon in the driver weighing area afterwards and pushed the Frenchman three times as he expressed his anger at what had happened.
Both drivers were called to see the race stewards to explain the incident, with Verstappen ordered to carry out “two days of public service” to atone for “making deliberate physical contact with” Ocon.
The punishment has echoes of that served by Sebastian Vettel after his collision with Hamilton at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Vettel ended up taking part in educational activities organised by the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body.
Hamilton’s win helped Mercedes secure the constructors’ championship.
They never looked like losing that as Ferrari’s challenge faded but the race win was another matter.
What was Ocon playing at?
Verstappen had driven superbly from the start, and was quickly up into second place by lap 10 after passing both Ferraris and then Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes in succession, holding Hamilton’s advantage at about 1.7 seconds.
Hamilton made an early stop for tyres on lap 19, switching on to mediums with the aim of going to the end, but Verstappen stayed out until lap 35.
His pace was so impressive on used super-softs that he almost did enough to rejoin without losing the lead.
In the end, he came back out 2.5secs behind Hamilton, and was on his tail within two laps and passed the Briton on lap 39.
He looked on course for victory until lap 44, when Ocon, who had not long ago pitted for fresh tyres, caught the Red Bull and was trying to unlap himself.
Ocon went around the outside of Verstappen into Turn One and that meant he was on the inside for the right-hander of Turn Two that follows immediately.
Verstappen’s right rear caught Ocon’s left front as he turned into the corner, pitching into a spin and into the run-off area.
The Dutchman was furious. “What an idiot,” he fumed over the radio.
Ocon claimed Verstappen had not left him enough space, but he was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty, the most severe punishment before a disqualification.
“I came out of the box, the first lap I stayed behind, the second lap the team said you can unlap yourself if you want,” Ocon said.
“I was side by side and I couldn’t disappear and then I saw he turned and we collided but what I am really surprised about is his behaviour after the race. We went on the scales he started to push me and wanted to punch me and stuff and this is not proper.”
Never give up
Verstappen was 5.7secs behind Hamilton when he got going again and he soon began to inch back towards the leader.
The car was damaged and Red Bull told him that he had lost some downforce around the front of the side-pod area but he kept coming at Hamilton regardless.
Meanwhile, Hamilton was battling problems with his power-unit, which was having drop-outs, as well as worn tyres, Mercedes asking 52 laps of his set of mediums, about their maximum limit.
Verstappen closed but he did not have enough time and crossed the line 1.5secs behind.
His engineer said: “I don’t know what to say, mate.” And the Dutchman turned the air blue over the radio, saying: “I know what to say. I hope I don’t find him in the paddock.”
In the green room before the podium ceremony, Hamilton told Verstappen that Ocon had the right to unlap himself. Verstappen agreed, but added: “But you can’t crash.” Hamilton responded: “You had more to lose than he did. He had nothing to lose.”
Later, Verstappen told the media: “He has the right to unlap himself but still you have to be careful. He has always been an idiot.”
In his post-race interview, he said: “You do everything right and then you get taken out when he is being lapped.
“The car was working great but I don’t know what to say. I’m happy with second but we should have won.”
Mercedes believed Hamiton’s engine was a lap from failing mid-race because of an overheating exhaust but they managed to bring the temperatures down and make it last to the end.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished third, the red cars unable to challenge for the lead despite what had been perceived as an advantageous strategy.
Raikkonen tracked Bottas in the first stint as the Mercedes hit tyre problems but was unable to pass before Bottas stopped on lap 18.
A longer first stint gave Raikkonen a tyre advantage in the second stint, he caught team-mate Vettel, who was ordered to let him past, but again Raikkonen became stuck behind Bottas.
Eventually, after 10 laps, Raikkonen finally got past, and then Bottas came under pressure from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo before Mercedes ordered him in for a second stop on lap 59, with 12 to go.
Ricciardo took fourth, ahead of Bottas, with Vettel, who also made a second stop, a struggling sixth.
Driver of the day
What happens next?
The curtain comes down on the season in Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time. After wins for three different drivers from three different teams in the past three races, who knows what will happen?
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