Verstappen tangle gifts Hamilton Brazil win

2018-11-14 06:02

THE 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix will long be remembered for the one where Mercedes secured a stunning fifth consecutive constructor’s championship and for that Verstappen/Ocon incident.

While qualifying was as close as anything we’ve seen in 2018 it was Lewis Hamilton who once again delivered and put his Mercedes in pole position. With Sebastian Vettel alongside on the more durable soft tyre, it appeared Ferrari were in the pound seats for victory.

But while Hamilton led cleanly off the line Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, and Kimi Raikkonen could do nothing to hold back a charging Max Verstappen. The Dutchman made short work of both Ferraris and Bottas before closing up on Hamilton and simply taking the lead of the race.

The most surprising factor was Verstappen’s straight-line speed, which the driver and his team principal have been lamenting nearly since the beginning of time. If the pace of the Red Bull was a surprise then Vettel and Ferrari’s lack of pace was even more puzzling.

Throughout Friday’s practice sessions and even qualifying, the red car looked well in the mix. But that pace was nowhere to be found on Sunday, at least not in Vettel’s case.

Raikkonen was able to turn a much quicker pace despite initially getting stuck behind the Mercedes of Bottas.

While the midfield were bumping and barging their way past each other, the sixth place starting Marcus Ericsson was forced into retirement with a Sauber that had lost part of its diffuser on the way to the grid. Nico Hulkenberg, too, was forced to retire his Renault while both McLaren drivers’ lack of pace was further compounded by Fernado Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, receiving five second penalties for ignoring blue flags.

Back at the front, Verstappen’s early pace wasn’t quite enough to maintain the lead of the race after the pit stop phase as he emerged three seconds behind Hamilton.

But his fresher tyres and superior pace meant that a few laps later he breezed past the Mercedes and back into P1. Verstappen easily pulled away from Hamilton and looked set to take back-to-back victories for the first time in his career.

It would all go horribly wrong on lap 44 as Esteban Ocon, fully within his right to do so, attempted to unlap himself going into turns 1 and 2.

Ocon held his line into the second part of the Senna S and made contact with race leader Verstappen sending both cars into a spin. It allowed Hamilton back into the lead of the race and ultimately towards the 72nd win of his career. Hamilton’s win helped to secure a stunning fifth consecutive constructors title for Mercedes.

As a mere five seconds covered the top three, Verstappen maintained second, while Raikkonen held off a late charging Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo for the 103rd podium of his career on the day he started his 150th race for Ferrari.

Second place was a scant consolation to a seething Verstappen who sought out Ocon after the race and proceeded to shove him several times before walking away.

The Dutch driver was subsequently ordered, by the FIA, to do two days of community service for his conduct. Some pointed out physical confrontations between Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard or Ayrton Senna and Eddie Irvine as comparison and reasoning why Verstappen’s actions shouldn’t be taken seriously.

If the FIA were to disregard Verstappen’s post-race behaviour, the line for what will be deemed acceptable next time would be moved.

Violence in no way, shape, or form should ever be deemed acceptable no matter how minor it may seem to others and it has no place in sport.

Verstappen is a great natural talent and an innately quick F1 driver, and there is no denying that he deserved to win the Brazilian GP.

But Verstappen’s air of entitlement clouds his way of thinking. As a frequent and vociferous basher of the Renault engine he implies that it is only through his superior skill that he finds himself at the head of the field.

While he is certainly a factor in the equation, this type of attitude and demeanour squawks of arrogance. It is exactly this mentality that meant he simply dismissed Ocon as irrelevant and ended up tangling with him.

It was Verstappen who had the most to lose and he did.

There will be some who do not agree but they should ask themselves if the same would have happened if it was Hamilton, Ricciardo or Raikkonen in the same situation.

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