Dec 5 (Reuters) – Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said title rival Max Verstappen drove over the limit and as if the rules did not apply to him after the pair collided at Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton exclaimed over the team radio that the Red Bull driver had ‘brake-tested’ him after he ran into the back of Verstappen’s car and damaged his front wing.
The Briton went on to win with fastest lap for Mercedes, with Verstappen second in a chaotic race with emotions running high and everything at stake.
The pair are now tied at the top on points with one race in Abu Dhabi remaining but both were summoned to the stewards after the grand prix in Jeddah.
“I’ve raced a lot of drivers through my life. In the 28 years I’ve come across a lot of different characters,” Hamilton told Sky Sports television.
“There’s a few at the top which are … kind of, yeah, over the limit. Rules kind of don’t apply, or don’t think of the rules,” added the Briton.
Hamilton said Verstappen, who leads Hamilton on race wins 9-8 and will be champion if neither score another point, was one of those who fell into the category.
“He’s over the limit, for sure,” he said of a youngster who has earned plenty of admirers for his speed and talent while acquiring a reputation for aggressive and uncompromising racing.
“I’ve avoided collision on so many occasions with the guy and I don’t always mind being the one that does that, because you live to fight another day. Which I obviously did.”
Hamilton said he was not informed his rival had been told to give the lead back after he went off and gained an advantage while defending against Hamilton in an earlier wheel-to-wheel clash.
“I didn’t get the information so I didn’t really understand what was going on,” said the champion. “It was very, very confusing. All of a sudden he started backing up and then kind of moving a little bit.
“I was like ‘Is he trying to play some kind of crazy tactic?’
“Then all of a sudden the message started coming through just as he hit the brakes so hard and I nearly … took us both out,” he added. “It doesn’t matter for him if we both don’t finish. For me we both need to finish.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)
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