Max Verstappen insists he DOESN’T ‘need to look at the footage’ of his Red Bull running Lewis Hamilton off track at the Sao Paulo GP… but the world champion says he has a ‘different viewpoint now’
- Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling Sao Paulo Grand Prix that was full of incident
- Hamilton was forced off the track while trying to overtake rival Max Verstappe
- Verstappen escaped punishment for running his rival off the road as they duelled
- The Red Bull driver could face retrospective action after Mercedes appealed
Max Verstappen insists he has not watched his incident with Formula One title rival Lewis Hamilton from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix which could yet land the Red Bull driver with a penalty.
Hamilton took the chequered flag at Interlagos to close the gap in the title race to 14 points with three races remaining.
But Verstappen escaped punishment for running his rival off the road as they duelled for first position on lap 48, with Mercedes launching an appeal against the decision.
Max Verstappen says he doesn’t need to look at the footage of his incident with Lewis Hamilton
He (back) appeared to force Hamilton off the track on lap 48 of the thrilling race in Sao Paulo
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, Verstappen defended his driving during the flashpoint with reigning champion Hamilton.
‘I didn’t need to look at the footage because I was driving the car and I knew exactly what happened,’ he said.
‘Like I said, I thought it was a great battle and I had a lot of fun. At the end of the day they won the race – fair enough they were faster than us but it was a good battle.’
The decision on whether a review takes place is set to be decided later on Wednesday afternoon, with Verstappen unconcerned that this season’s enthralling title battle could be made ugly with an off-track scrap between Red Bull and Mercedes.
‘I think it is quite normal when it is between two teams, not just one team with two drivers,’ he said.
‘I just have to focus on what is happening on track of course and the rest will be dealt with. To be honest, I don’t think about it too much. It is not in my hands these kind of things, I am a driver and I need to focus on what is happening on the track.’
Asked if he would make the same manoeuvre again, the Dutchman added: ‘Yes. As a driver, I think we know exactly what we can and can’t do in the car, we were fighting hard, breaking late into the corner and the tyres were worn. If I had turned more abruptly to the left he would have just spun off.’
Verstappen said he was not surprised Mercedes had launched an appeal against the decision but insists he was unmoved by the prospect of retrospective action.
Mercedes said that the emergence of new evidence means the incident should be investigated
‘If, if if…’ he replied when asked how he would feel if he was given a five-second penalty to his race time from Brazil, taking him behind Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas and seeing his championship lead cut to 11 points.
‘It is not the end of the world but I don’t expect that to happen. I think it was fair and hard racing between two guys fighting for the championship.’
Hamilton addressed the media shortly after Verstappen and said the newly-revealed onboard footage had changed his opinion on the incident – having said after the race: ‘It’s hard battling and I wouldn’t expect anything less really. We didn’t touch wheels, which is good.’
Asked if he had changed his view in the past week, the seven-time world champion replied: ‘I think the reason I said at the time was the mentality you have to take, if you sit in the car in the moment and complain it will only hold you back, in the moment I could only move forward.
‘It is difficult to judge when you haven’t seen all the angles, of course I’ve relooked at it and I have a different viewpoint now, but I’m just putting all my energy into setting up the car and making sure I’m in the right head space.’
Hamilton says he has a ‘different viewpoint now’ over the near collision after reviewing it again
Hamilton, though, would not be drawn into whether he felt Verstappen should be penalised.
‘Honestly, it is not something I want to dive much more into,’ he added.
‘I have seen the onboard footage that came out but as I said, the last race I was trying to focus on the fact we did something that was quite remarkable.
‘Right now, I know the team are in discussion at the point so I am just leaving them to it.’