In Jeddah, the two exceptional pilots also gave each other exceptional maneuvers – especially when it came to uncompromising. Verstappen received a five-second penalty in the race and then ten seconds for an action that really upset Hamilton. “He’s definitely over the limit,” said the 36-year-old Englishman. “I avoided so many collisions with him.” Some of the top drivers would either not think about the rules – or they would think that they don’t apply to them.
In the said scene, the seven-time world champion Verstappen crashed into the rear. The Red Bull man had previously left the track without permission and should let the Briton pass again on the instructions of his team in order to avoid a penalty. Verstappen slowed down suddenly, Hamilton drove him into his car during his “brake test”. With a damaged front wing, Hamilton managed to cross the finish line before his opponent.
Wolff believes in “clean” racing
“I wanted to let him pass, so I’m on the right side, but he didn’t want to overtake and then we touched,” said Verstappen, describing the scene that made people run wild. Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff threw his headset to the ground in anger. The Viennese do not fear a final crash on Sunday in Abu Dhabi – even if Verstappen would be world champion for the first time at the age of 24 due to the higher number of wins this season due to a double failure.
“I don’t think it will escalate,” said Wolff after the race. “Today there were so many warning shots for everyone involved that it will go off cleanly and has to go off cleanly.” Nobody could afford to come up with a result that was not taken on the route. “We just want a clean World Championship, may the best man win. If it’s Max in the end, then I have no problem with that. But it just has to be a fair race, ”said Wolff.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko accused the rulers of discrimination in Saudi Arabia. “You cannot measure with two different standards. If a seven-time world champion misjudges himself, that can happen, but not at our expense, ”said the Styrian and clearly saw the mistake in the key scene with Hamilton. The stewards judged differently. The ten-second penalty for Verstappen was of no consequence for the result.
For the second time in F1 history
It is only for the second time in its history that Formula 1 is entering a World Cup final with two title contenders tied on points. So far this has only been the case in 1974, when the Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi prevailed against the Swiss Clay Regazzoni.
Verstappen wins titles if …
- he finished the race in Abu Dhabi ahead of Hamilton
- both drivers retire or do not finish the race in the points
- he finishes tenth and drives the fastest race lap if Hamilton is not better than ninth
Hamilton wins the title if …
- he wins the race in Abu Dhabi
- he leaves Verstappen behind and lands in places two to eight
- he finishes ninth and Verstappen does not set the fastest race lap in tenth
- he finishes tenth and leaves Verstappen behind
At that time, with Jody Scheckter, a third driver had chances for the title, but the South African retired at Watkins Glen. McLaren driver Fittipaldi secured his second world title with fourth place. Niki Lauda’s Ferrari team-mate Regazzoni only finished eleventh in a replacement car. The race was overshadowed by the fatal accident of the Austrian Helmut Koinigg.
Verstappen with better cards
47 years later, security conditions have changed. There was a lot of risk on the narrow street course in Jeddah – especially from Verstappen. In the end, the Dutchman wasn’t even dissatisfied with second place, especially since his car couldn’t quite keep up with that of Mercedes. 369.5: 369.5 is the score after 21 races between him and Hamilton. After victories of the season, which would be decisive in the event of a tie, Verstappen is still 9: 8.
The prospects for Red Bull in the constructors’ championship are worse. There the Austrian-English team is with a maximum of 44 possible points 28 behind Mercedes. “We need a miracle to win that,” said team boss Christian Horner. However, the Englishman was proud to have challenged Mercedes to the final. “We still have this one litter to be able to win this title with Max – and we will do everything for that.” Horner also hoped for a “fair and clean” race. “We want to win the title on the track, not in the race control or in the gravel.”
“Now it’s all or nothing”
Before the final showdown, Wolff put it like this: “Now it’s all or nothing.” For the 30th time in its history and for the first time since 2016, the Formula 1 World Championship will not be decided until the last race. 2016 was also the last season so far in which the world champion was not called Hamilton. Five years ago, the Briton had to bow to his Mercedes stable rival Nico Rosberg for the only time. The German then ended his career.
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Formula 1: Everything prepared for a wild World Cup final