Verstappen says he took “safer” option by running wide in Hamilton incident

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen explained why he ran wide when Lewis Hamilton tried to overtake him on the outside at the Descida do Lago corner during a contentious moment in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver arrived at the corner slightly ahead of his rival as the pair vied for position. Verstappen, on the inside, ran wide, and both drivers went well outside the track limit boundaries at the exit of the corner. Verstappen kept his position and continued in the lead.

The Red Bull driver explained he was starting to lose grip from his tyres at the time. “We both of course, tried to be ahead into the corner, and so I braked a bit later to try and keep the position and the tyres were already a bit worn,” he said.

“So I was really on the edge of grip, so that’s why I think I was already not fully on the apex. And it’s a safer way, of just running a bit wide there.”

The stewards decided not to investigate the incident, which infuriated Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

“I was, of course, happy that the stewards decided that we could just keep on racing, because I think the racing in general was really good today,” said Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver denied his driving was similar to Hamilton running wide when the pair fought for position at Copse corner during the British Grand Prix, leading to contact between them and a heavy crash for Verstappen.

“I don’t think it’s the same,” he said. “It’s a completely different corner as well, so there’s not much more to comment. It’s not the same.”

Verstappen was not able to defend his position during a subsequent attack from Hamilton, who took the lead on lap 59 with a pass approaching the same corner and went on to win. The Red Bull driver’s championship lead is therefore reduced to 14 points ahead of next week’s Qatar Grand Prix.

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2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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56 comments on “Verstappen says he took “safer” option by running wide in Hamilton incident”

  1. So, he admits to not being in control of the car, outbraking himself and forcing another car off track whilst gaining an advantage by going off track himself. Yet not even an investigation, unbelievable.

    Dirty Max, thankfully the right result in the end, this man is a danger.

    Let’s see his onboard please.

  2. Yeah, “safer” when it come to defending his position in the championship!

    Max can’t help but hint at the truth. How many times did he say in post-race interviews “I did everything I could” whilst smirking? He’s pleased with himself for getting away with a borderline move and so he should be. If he wins the championship it puts him up there with the likes of Senna as a driver that is prepared to do anything to win.

    1. Pretty much @sonnycrockett, he could have done quite a bit more when going into that corner with HAM alongside rather then just run him off the track.

      1. Correct he could hit Lewis on his rear wheel……..

        1. @macleod Well, he tried, but Hamilton was wise to it.

          1. @scbriml he didn’t tried it otherwise Lewis would be in the barriers. Not Max his style this incident is more racely but nothing happens as Lewis stayed away.
            It would be very easy to reprocude the Silverstone accident in reverse but as i said not Max it’s style and from his mouth not for him.

          2. @macleod It very much is Maxs style! Silverstone was as much his fault as he refused to move to the left. (He also had almost hit Hamilton a couple of corners prior) Monza was entirely his fault as he went for a gap that was simply impossible to make. He forced Bottas of the track and Forced both himself and Lewis off the track at Brazil. If Hamilton had not reacted very quickly, he would have been hit by Max. Max made what looked like zero effort to make that corner.

  3. Yeah, sure Max.

  4. he did what was safer, so to go wide and push the other guy out is still ahead of giving up the position to him, in terms of security.
    Lazy race control caant complain the next time he pushed someone out. He’s been allowed.

  5. At least there’s one thing being consistent this year.
    The FIA Steward’s inconsistencies.

  6. Don’t worry Max, FIA have your back. No explanation needed.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      15th November 2021, 0:00

      @david-br @lucifer yeah, sadly true…

  7. RandomMallard (@)
    14th November 2021, 21:27

    It may have been the safer option, but he should have yielded the position. He gained an advantage by going off the track, with an already reckless move. It was poor driving and should have been penalised or at the very least resulted in him giving the position up. If I was a steward, I would give 5 or 10 seconds and 2 penalty points if he didn’t give the position up, or a reprimand and 1 point if he had given up the advantage. As someone supporting Max in this championship, the right driver won today.

  8. Love to see the onboard released, clearly the stewards saw something the public didn’t see.

    1. @blueruck from what gt-racer has said, it seems the footage from Verstappen’s onboard forward facing camera wasn’t available to the stewards when they investigated it, because bandwidth limitations means the footage could not be extracted live from the car and instead has to be downloaded after the race.

      At the earliest, therefore, it would probably not have been until a couple of hours after that incident, once scruitineering was finished, that the stewards might have been able to access and view the footage that they could have then downloaded from the onboard storage facilities on the car.

      1. F1 chose not to have the onboard cameras running live for the 1st place driver. I don’t believe and won’t believe it. Quick delete the video.
        Let’s go Masi!

    2. They didn’t see anything at all is what I heard.

    3. @bluruck The stewards didn’t see anything because they didn’t investigate it! Masi even admitted they didn’t have access to Verstappen’s forward-facing on-board at the time.

  9. He could’ve kept/steered more left, given he had enough space on the inside.
    He clearly let his car slip towards Lewis intentionally.

  10. In fact in Silverstone Hamilton had the rights to racing line (as Horner explained when Verstappen was halfway up the inside of Stroll in another incident) and he actually made the corner. So there should be no penalty at all for him. Yet in this case Verstappen was beaten and still just drove straight for Hamilton. Sickening that this kind of dirty driving gets no penalties whatsoever.

    Plus when he drove Bottas off track after turn 1.

    1. The decision seems laughable. I hope if the onboard camera a telemetry shows he braked too late to make the corner he receives a penalty for this. Indeed they penalised Hamilton at Silverstone when he did make the corner, so a more severe penalty would be in order as the consequences isn’t taken into consideration.

    2. @f1osaurus utter nonsense again but then we have come to expect that from you.
      In Silverstone Lewis was too far behind and way off line and hit the rear of Max’s car at 290km/h . Here Lewis was on the outside got slightly in front but Max managed to brake late and get the nose ahead on the inside.

  11. I’m not a Max fan and admire his skills. He was outmatched today and his defensive tactics with LH were questionable at best. Glad to see there is going to be a fight going into the final races. I was worried RB might run away with Championship.

    1. Merc car outmatched him you mean. 30 km/h faster on the straight. There was nothing Max could do. In your analogy Max outmatched Lewis in Mexico!

      1. I don’t know what I am missing; who took the fastest lap. That car must have been faster, wouldn’t it?

      2. @kavu The difference without a slipstream or DRS was 5-7kph.

        Exactly, the RB was 0.5s a lap faster in Mexico, but that was a win down to Verstappen’s brilliance and not because his car was much faster.

    2. Yes, I’d also rather see Mercedes win for the 9th year in a row. Such an excitement

      1. This year would be 8th, not 9th

  12. It was a pretty dirty. But this season has no marquess of queensbury rules between these guys.

    Also I feel for Massa having to give that interview. That would have been painful there in Brazil thinking of 2008.

    1. Yes, I thought the same regards Felipe. I was kind of surprised at Hamiltons popularity given the circumstances of his win that year. Felipe and him had more than a few tussles. Clearly respect in both directions there

      1. Yeah they almost came to blows on camera during an interview in Singapore. That season was maybe more bonkers than this one. But this one ain’t over!

        1. That was 2011 when it got really heated. Remember it very well!!

          1. And when you take a closer look at it, you will find Massa was changing his lines mid corner whenever Hamilton attempted an overtake until the stewards realised he was all out to cause accidents rather than be passed.

  13. He never ever admits any fault, ever, and Silverstone is still completely different? I’m pleased someone raised the comparison.
    It’s starting to get a little unpleasant this lack of any contrition whatsoever. It’s always someone else’s fault, never Max’s fault or any bad driving on his part… ever.

    1. @john-h Yeah, not sure why that Silverstone post was removed. Seemed like a pretty apt comparison to make. Hamilton getting a penalty in Silverstone while he actually had the rights to the racing line, yet they pull some before unknown condition on him (again!), that he had to make the apex. Yet Verstappen is now here near the apex, didn’t make the corner either and didn’t even have the rights to the racing line. Yet dives straight through Hamilton. Fully to blame, incident clear and gets nothing.

      Same with the weaving really. Verstappen gets away with it while Hamilton got a penalty for that.

    2. @john-h it’s this that makes me hope that Max learns that certain aspects of his current driving aren’t acceptable before he wins a championship. He is an exceptional driver, and will surely win multiple titles, but if he wins the championship with driving like this, it will only serve to reinforce to him that the “you move or we crash” approach that he so often employs is acceptable. I’m surprised that Bottas hasn’t been asked to hold his line in situations with Max, seeing as it’s Max that has the most to lose. Maybe it’s because the constructors championship is so close?

  14. Max is ahead though that is irrelevant as they are side-by-side.

  15. “So I was really on the edge of grip, so that’s why I think I was already not fully on the apex. And it’s a safer way, of just running a bit wide there.”

    Where is 10 second penalty for Max for “not hitting the apex”?!

  16. It’s pretty ridiculous how the Lewisfans are misinterpreting his statements. For me it is pretty evident: he preferred to drive wide, rather than risk sliding out, because Lewis can judge the line that Max is taking when he is driving. However, if Max left room for Lewis, but couldn’t hold his car, there’s a good chance that Max would slide into Lewis.

    1. He would have been able to hold his car If he didnt tried to overdrive it risking a collision that was Very interesting to him.

    2. Of course it is the fault of ‘Lewisfans’, of course it is @aapje. Nothing to do with going in too hot into the corner in a desperate defence, nothing at all. Verstappen definitely took the safer option by not braking, definitely. Seriously man, come on let it go. Admit your Max might have for once, got something wrong. I dare you.

      1. @john-h

        I was not addressing the move itself, but the completely uncharitable and frankly ridiculous interpretations and conspiracy theories being forwarded. It’s pretty telling that you won’t defend your fellow commentators, but choose to change the topic.

        1. “It’s pretty telling that you won’t defend your fellow commentators”

          I’m replying to your comment @aapje, I’m not changing the topic. Scroll up and read what you have written, then see my response. He slid wide because he went purposely too hot into the corner in desperation. You are the one that are making a comment on this article that has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or Lewisfans. It’s you, can’t you see that?! You! Man alive it’s like talking to a brick wall.

  17. Wasn’t a good day (or weekend) for the FIA and it really comes across like they’re trying to favour Red Bull & disadvantage Mercedes for winning their previous few titles. I think we’d all accept that a change of winner & close racing is great for F1, but it cannot be controlled & contrived as it feels the stewards and the FIA are trying to do. Not a great spectacle for the independence of the sport!

  18. Yep, al the ham fans are present distorting what he said to their narrative.
    It was hard racing without a doubt. But nothing happened and the two best drivers of the world are very capable of avoiding a crash in those circumstances.
    He did what he could against a merc with 30kmu overspeed.

    1. The speed difference without a slipstream and DRS was 5-7kph.

      It’s funny how the “hard driving” is OK when it benefits Verstappen, but you cry like a girl when it benefits Hamilton. Hilarious.

    2. Look, I would love to see Verstappen win the title, and I do think the Mercedes was just the same dominating engine it was in the last boring years (helped by the track layout too, that straight is really nice to overtake when you have that much straight line speed), but this was a 5 second penalty.
      Max decided he wanted to be alongside Lewis when entering the corner and just hit the brakes too late and too light. As a result he didn’t make the corner, but he knew Lewis had no place to go and could only steer in when he did, back off, or make contact. Would all be more acceptable to Max than to Lewis and he knew it. Just like Lewis knew he had to be ahead in the first lap of Silverstone and they both knew they had to be ahead at Monza. Lewis has done it in his years, Max is doing it now. Hard racing is fine, this was too much. You have to at least make the corner.

  19. It makes sense and I just loved the fighting between the 2. The rest was so dull.

  20. Yes he’s running wide off the mark on this one.

  21. Dirty ….

  22. in what way is Copse a completely different corner? one goes right and the other goes left?

  23. Far out the comments here are ridiculous.

    I agree that there is some inconsistency with the stewarding with similar incidents, but I for one am really glad they let them race. It allowed us a few more riveting laps of watching Hamilton find a way past in a more convincing manner.

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