Verstappen expects Hamilton to hold up Rosberg

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen expects Lewis Hamilton’s championship tactics will involve trying to hold up Nico Rosberg during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton needs to win Sunday’s race with Rosberg finishing no higher than fourth in order to clinch the championship. Verstappen believes that leaves Hamilton no option other than to get in Rosberg’s way.

“That’s his only chance to win the championship so why not?” Verstappen asked.

Backing Rosberg up ‘not practical’, says Hamilton
However Verstappen pointed out he would be just as keen to pass Hamilton as Rosberg. “It’s not something just for Lewis,” he said. “I’m always trying to do the best possible result for myself and the team.”

“When you see the opportunity, you go for it. Of course you never try to crash, you always try to do it in a very clean way and that’s for sure what we’ll try to do in the race.”

Yas Marina’s two long straight could put Red Bull at a disadvantage. “Of course at the moment their package is very strong,” Verstappen admitted. “But maybe with Lewis backing off and backing them into us, you never know what happens.”

Hamilton is sceptical about whether it would be possible to slow Rosberg down, saying it wouldn’t be practical given Yas Marina’s configuration.

Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo also pointed out his championship position is secure so he will have nothing to lose if he finds himself racing the Mercedes.

“If something happens at the start or during the race we can be there to maybe capitalise,” said Ricciardo. “It’s going to be fun.”

“There’s nothing for us, or for me personally, to gain or lose. The position’s locked in the championship. So by no means I’m going to driver reckless or anything silly but sure I’m looking for some opportunities.”

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    10 comments on “Verstappen expects Hamilton to hold up Rosberg”

    1. Well, Hamilton would have to be ahead of Rosberg to hold him up. Why are so many people assuming that Rosberg won’t be on pole, lead after the first lap, etc.?

      1. I don’t think people are assuming that. It’s simply the fact that if Rosberg is ahead of Hamilton then a conversation on the topic of Hamilton holding up Rosberg is mute.

    2. I would have to agree with Max about it being Hamilton’s best chance of winning the championship. If Hamilton just pulls away in the distance, I’d expect Rosberg to trail Lewis by 3 to 4 secs and just manage his race to keep the Bulls behind him. But if he backs Rosberg in to the Red Bulls, I’d expect a lot of possibilities to open up –
      1) There is a chance one of the Red Bulls could get the undercut on Rosberg.
      2) It will be more difficult for Rosberg to manage his tyres if he’s closely following Lewis,
      3) With Max ready to pounce on Rosberg, there is a high chance of a racing incident that could affect Nico’s race.
      4) In case of a sudden Safety car period it will disadvantage Rosberg if the lead Mercedes driver has to pit first, as he’ll have to que up behind Lewis or pit on the next lap.
      5) It will put Rosberg under a lot of pressure. Rosberg has never been in this situation before, and he’ll be nervous and error prone in this situation. He’s cracked under pressure before, so I don’t see why Lewis will not try everything he can to make him crack again.

      I think it’s a no brainer that Lewis should try and back him up. I also think it will make the race a whole lot more interesting, so I really hope that it’s a no holds barred, tactical game played by Lewis on Sunday.

      1. Provided Hamilton is in a position to do so, I can already hear the “He is slowing me down” from Rosberg and the “I can’t drive any faster” from Hamilton on the radio a few times before Hamilton suddenly “solves the issue” and goes a lot faster again, then we have the same later in the race etc. @todfod.

        As Verstappen says “That is the only chance to win the championship” so why wouldn’t Hamilton go for it, it is not as if he doesn’t have ample experience from doing it in the past. Off course the trick will be being ahead in the first place. And not getting passed by a Red Bull himself!

        1. @bascb
          So what are you saying here?

    3. The Blade Runner (@)
      25th November 2016, 9:44

      Max could well play a big part in deciding who’s Champion. Let’s hope for an exciting race and whoever takes the title doing so without too much controversy!

      For what it’s worth, I think it would be good for F1 if Rosberg wins this year.

      Mercedes has been so dominant in recent years, in my opinion to the detriment of the sport. If we assume that their dominance will continue for at least another year then we need a team mate for Hamilton that doesn’t suffer from an inferiority complex, something which I feel has hampered Rosberg for as long as Lewis has been there. A newly crowned, and now totally confident, Rosberg competing against a multiple World Champion team mate is likely to spice things up for next season. At least until Red Bull and the amazing “Mad” Max Verstappen give us a real WDC from 2018 onwards!

    4. Even if Lewis did hold up Nico he would find it difficult to hold him up enough for several cars to pass him since Nico can still win by finishing third. If it was the case that Max was catching Lewis and Nico due to Lewis not going fast enough the simplest solution for Nico would be to allow Max to pass him quickly stay with him as he tries to catch and pass Lewis.

      Lewis couldn’t risk backing Max and Nico up as Max, with nothing to lose, would likely try to force an overtake and that would risk Lewis’s win so he would need to up his pace Nico wouldn’t need to risk an overtake on Max but could try an undercut late on or accept third place. It’s the last race of the season, to Lewis and Nico this is not about winning this race it’s all about winning the championship, to everyone else its about this race.

      1. There’s more then just Max, Rosberg and Lewis on track.

        The only realistic approach to win the WDC is to force Rosberg in to a fight with both RBR and Ferrari, meanwhile Lewis can permit himself putting his own position in danger as he has nothing to loose at all.

        Lewis (and maybe we all) knows Verstappen is able to overtake Rosberg if he leaves just that one oppertunity…

        In reality it’s a long shot, as Mercedes is appearing to be to strong, but we’ve seen odder things happen

    5. Dream on Max.
      IF Lewis is up front he will push for as big a gap from Nico as he can.

      1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
        25th November 2016, 22:35

        If he does that Rick he effectively “thrown the towel” and let Rosberg be WDC. This is not the time to show how superior you are against Nico but tactically think what gives you the best odds to become WDC yourself and hold up Rosberg (if indeed Lewis is first after the first lap) will give you better odds. He has nothing to lose really and everything to win so why not?

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