Verstappen and Hamilton unfazed by threat of points deduction over collision

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen say the possibility of a points deduction in the event of a controversial end to the title fight is not out of the ordinary.

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi today took the unusual step of including a reminder of several rules in the International Sporting Code in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix event notes issued to the drivers. This included clauses which allow points to be deducted in response to certain types of incident.

Points deductions are rare but not unheard of in Formula 1. Racing Point had a total of 15 points confiscated last year over a violation of the sporting regulations.

“It’s happened in the past,” Hamilton acknowledged. “I’m sure the stewards have taken the precautions they have this time around and so I think that’s fair that they do it. Hopefully they won’t need to be used and we have a great race and move forwards.

“I don’t particularly have an opinion about it otherwise. I’m here to do my job and I don’t want to see the stewards any more than they want to see me.”

Verstappen said the pre-race reminder from Masi was unnecessary. “I know what’s in the sporting code so nobody needs to be reminded of that,” said the Red Bull driver.

“I think they can put it in every single race weekend. There’s nothing newly added for this weekend.”

The possibility of a controversial conclusion to the championship has been hyped up by media coverage of the race, according to Verstappen.

“As a driver you don’t think about these things. You go into a weekend where you just want to do the best you can as a team and of course to try to win the race.

“But naturally the media starts to say these things. So I don’t really have a lot more to comment on that. I arrived here just trying to do the best I can, trying to be the best prepared and trying to win this weekend.”

If both drivers fail to score this weekend, Verstappen will win the championship. Hamilton said the possibility of a collision is out of his hands.

“I can’t control those things around me,” he said. “All I can do is control what I do in terms of preparation and how I conduct myself.”

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2021 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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82 comments on “Verstappen and Hamilton unfazed by threat of points deduction over collision”

  1. Well I am happy to read that both feel it will not be applying to them, so then clearly we will have a thrilling and fair fight right :-D

    1. I don’t see a points deduction happening. Even if the events of Jeddah were to repeat themselves. Glad to see stewards talk a big game though. I just wish those big balls were around in 1994 when Schumacher clearly crashed deliberately into Damon Hill. But I digress…

  2. Max knows exactly what in the rule books, that’s why he drives the way he does and then complains about being unfairly targeted by the stewards when he’s given a penalty. Clearly this guy simply does not compute. lol

    I think the likelihood of Max ending the race for him and Hamilton at turn one is high.

    1. @Johnny A relatively short distance from the front row to T1 – therefore, unlikely unless Max is right behind or nearly beside him. More likely, the corners following the longest straights or the new hairpin.
      Nevertheless, I certainly don’t hope for anything extreme.

      1. I am not convinced of VER at all. He will: (a) dive inside and brake late and it is up to the guy on the outside to avoid contact; or (b) he will still brake late and claim that he was pushed outside the track. He doesn’t understand when he has lost the corner (ex. first restart in Jeddah when HAM was a full car ahead before the corner). So, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s action at turn 1.

    2. Not sure about the way Lewis handles things when he stared

      Hamilton said the possibility of a collision is out of his hands.

      Just use the steering wheel and try to avoid hitting cars this time.

      1. He’s been doing that all season already. Even in Silverstone. Now how about your Max tries to not drive in to cars on purpose for a change?

        1. Even in Silverstone? Hamilton tried to avoid Verstappen? Really? LOL!

      2. Lewis gains nothing by a double DNF, he’s got to stay in and pick up points to win. The risk is that Max can keep playing dirty games and if they happen to crash he doesn’t care because he’ll be world champion.

  3. Max is the combination of Senna and Schumacher, dirty but have a big raw talent, hamilton is more like prost, i feel like FIA gettin tired of hamilton, AMG domination, just like FIA tired of ferrari schumacher, vettel red bull back then, its dejavu,

    1. Delusional.

      1. max reminding me of young michael schumacher when it comes to defensive aggressive driving

      2. He got a good point, FIA seems dislike long domination

    2. Verstappen is more like Maldonado or Schumacher. He has nothing from Senna. Verstappen is poor at qualifying and he has no honor whatsoever. Hamilton is a lot more comparable to Senna.

      1. Absolutely nothing from Senna?
        I’ll refer you back to today’s ‘On This Day’ story from the round up:

        On this day in 1993 Ayrton Senna appeared before the World Motor Sports Council over punching Eddie Irvine at the Japanese Grand Prix

        Ocon got off lightly in Brazil! 😄

    3. hamilton is more like prost

      Prost had more driving in the nail of his little toe than a gazillion of hams

  4. I just struggle to see them not colliding again. I hope not, obviously, but it just keeps happening, and this is their ‘ultimum actum’, whether it be stewards, contact, teammates, traffic, red flags et al. I don’t think they can just race without some kind of feverish commentary. *to which I’ve just contributed.

    I can’t see how it won’t be messy.

    1. I think the only way it won’t get messy is if they are apart on track. For example if one of them gets pole and scampers off into the distance. If they are both fighting for position, and therefore the WDC, neither of them will yield an inch.

  5. The fact that the entire Formula 1 internet bubble is discussing what will happen if and when Verstappen deliberately takes out Hamilton shows the reputational damage ‘brand Verstappen’ and to a lesser extent ‘brand Red Bull’ have already suffered. That’s quite an achievement.

    1. @david-br
      Yep. I haven’t even seen any of his hardcore fans saying that he wouldn’t do that. That’s quite an indictment, if even his own fans think he may do it…

      1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
        9th December 2021, 15:21

        Many of his hard core fans possibly hope he WILL do it! Mainly as vengeance for Silverstone (and probably in no small way encouraged as a result of how Horner (and Max) stoked anti-Hamilton feelings in the wake of it).
        Dutch F1 reporter on the current BBC Chequered Flag podcast said as much: i.e. when asked if he thought Verstappen could lose some popularity in the Netherlands if he won the WDC by causing a crash*, he said that it might actually make him more popular! He points out that a significant proportion of the growth in Dutch F1 support is people who came because of Max and are more interested in Max winning than they are in F1 as a whole; so for some, anything goes.

        *To be fair, I doubt Max gives a monkey’s about his popularity rating!

        1. Thanks for being disgusting. This comment section is truly trash now.

      2. Maybe this is caused by the tunnel vision and lack of a proper discussion in the comments?

        1. That is, of course, very possible. Given the comment by Broadsword to Danny Boy above, it seems there is a large proportion of Max’s fanbase who would have no objection to him winning a WDC by crashing, but I don’t know many Max fans and none of them are any more than casual. All I really have to go by is online discussions, here and elsewhere. In those, I think I’ve seen a couple of Max fans come out against a win-by-crash scenario, but even they didn’t say they didn’t think he would. Most discussion I’ve seen from those who aren’t Max fans, neutrals in this fight and Hamilton fans, almost expect it of him.

          1. There is even a large group Lewis fans that still keep the illusion alive it’s a clean driver.
            Looking at his behavior in Saudi and the resulting unsportmanship behavior warning it is only an illusion.

          2. @drmouse

            If you are swayed by disgusting comments like that, which accuse an entire fan base of wanting a driver to crash, then I guess that you’ve been swayed by the domination of Lewisfans too.

            Most people want to fit it to groups and adopt the opinions of the majority. This is also why censorship works, BTW.

      3. @drmouse The thing is, expecting the worst also kind of smooths the way for the worst. I really think the Verstappen-Masi combination has expanded the limits for acceptable racing, so I anticipate that unless it’s 100% obvious intent, which is well near impossible to determine, he would get away with a crash that takes out Hamilton to win the title. And yes I blame Masi directly too as it was clearly his policy to allow ‘hard racing’ from Austria 2019, clearly intended as a free pass for Verstappen’s driving ‘style’ in particular, that has led to the current blurred boundaries.

        1. @david-br you’re not wrong.

          1. @drmouse But I really hope I am :O|

    2. Hamilton literally got DQd for misleading stewards in 2009 and that hasn’t affected ‘Brand Hamilton’ has it? People just get hysterical in the moment.

      1. Brand Hamilton did get a hit following Liegate in 2009, but his subsequent successes and longevity help ease those momentary scandals. The same with Schumacher for example, who is now largely seen by the fanbase as a great champion, but was villified for many years. Time heals a lot of wounds, I feel with Max it would be the same, if Max carries on many more years.

        1. in my eyes, schumacher is still the most overrated and dirtiest driver i’ve ever seen, even after all the championships and the passage of time. i think a lot of us who saw adelaide 94, silverstone 95, jerez 97, etc. would agree. even with his current physical state and rose-colored movie, the opinion of him is still very negative.

      2. As Pedro says, that incident did have a big repercussion, including for McLaren (I think someone lost their job) and it wasn’t really until Hamilton switched to Mercedes that he was rid of that backstory.
        The other thing is that this ‘Verstappen-style racing’ issue is set to continue, partly because it isn’t a one-off incident, partly because all the other drivers on the grid want to know if they can now drive the same. It’s become a ‘thing.’

  6. Any chance of repeat violations and associated point deductions, as often happens in the game of snooker, after which Valteri becomes surprise world champion?

    On a less silly note, I think this is actually a good reminder by Masi. Now at least any offender would at least have to make it look like an accident.

    1. @Julian Sark Making look like an accident would be easier said than done, LOL.
      Bottas is too far behind for benefitting from possible point deductions.

      1. @jerejj I’m not so sure it would be that difficult. They are both outstanding drivers who know their cars intimately. Slightly too much throttle while going round a corner with their opponent outside them would be very difficult to prove was intentional, but could relatively easily be done in a way to result in a large crash. That’s just the first possibility off the top of my head.

        1. Only one of those 2 drivers has shown the willingness to engage in such unethical behavior.

          1. I think which one would depend on who you were talking to.

          2. Mark in Florida
            9th December 2021, 16:26

            You are forgetting Silverstone. That pretty much kicked this current mess off to begin with. If this was fair, Max would get a ten second penalty for taking another driver out. That’s what Hamilton got for destroying Maxes car. So don’t pick and choose partisan penalties. Bottas got in on the action himself and wiped the whole team out. Where was the out cry about that shoddy move. Masi said the outcome of a crash doesn’t affect the penalty. Only now that’s changed at the end of the season for some dubious reason.

          3. Hamilton in silverstone surely was no joke.

          4. If this was fair, Max would get a ten second penalty for taking another driver out.

            It isn’t the result which gets punished, it is the action. Lewis ran slightly wide in Silverstone, still making the corner himself but making contact with Max. He was very lucky not to end his own race too with that mistake. He got a 10s penalty for this, for accidentally causing a collision by running slightly wide. Remember that at that point he was behind in the points so had nothing to gain by the most probable outcome of a deliberate collision, which is a DNF for both. Luckily for him (and it took a decent chunk of luck), he continued and overcame the 10s penalty to win the race.

            Conversely, if a 10s penalty was all that was on the table for Max, he has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If both DNF and only standard punishments apply, he wins, which incentivises bad behaviour. The closing stages of a season are significantly different to the mid season. Unless you are going to significantly increase the penalties given thoughout the season, the final stages have to be treated differently.

          5. You need to remember that HAM did make the corner at Silverstone, albeit a bit off of the apex. How many times now have the situations been reversed and VER doesn’t make the corner at all? Brazil, Saudi Arabia, etc…
            Max is a much better driver than anyone of us commenting here could ever dream to become. However, as an armchair quarterback, I will criticize and say that his wheel-to-wheel racing skills are truly subpar. Repeatedly taking a “let me pass or we crash” attitude is not going to help him win repeated championships. The best example of which is Silverstone: had he given an inch, sure he’d have lost the win but he’d have kept 18 points, and would thus be 18 points ahead right now.

          6. The best example of which is Silverstone: had he given an inch, sure he’d have lost the win but he’d have kept 18 points, and would thus be 18 points ahead right now.

            This is the key take away: it’s not about who’s ‘right’ in the rule book in a particular overtaking manoeuvre, but who scores the most points after all the rules get applied. Verstappen was ‘in his right’, so Hamilton got a penalty. But in order to win the DWC, you need to first of all not die halfway through the season. Going all-in around the outside is not the best move when you have the better car, like Verstappen had in Silverstone. Hamilton took the best opportunity for the maximum result and succeeded. Now Hamilton has the best car with a fresh enough engine, so it’s up to Max to go all-in now and take a chance, but Hamilton is wiser and knows how to pick his battles. He won’t get fooled by a slower car the way Max got fooled in Silverstone. After Brazil we all knew: it’s Hamilton title to lose.

      2. Could be. At least the duo will be under intense scrutiny. Hey, what’s Nelson Piquet Jr. up to these days? Has anyone offered him a back marker seat for the final race yet? :D

    2. I couldn’t stop smiling when thinking at the snooker analogy. Here is certainly a sport which has done better than F1 in writing out the rules of the game !

      1. I can’t see a ‘miss’ being called anytime soon with these two fighting for the title.

        1. Would be great though. And then have everybody back up to the position they were in earlier…

  7. Translation: We will crown whoever we feel like (according to whatever interpretation of the rules we so fancy on that day) and in doing so making a mockery of the sport. Senna vs Prost will never be bettered simply because they won’t allow it.

    I’m probably alone in thinking this way but IMHO it was the race management that looked most powerless last weekend.

    1. If it happens I think I’m as appalled by this as you are, but is there actually any other way?

      To truly solve this, this sport needs either near no-rules racing, or even tighter rules that can be enforced with absolutely no doubts. I’m thinking true, computer aided geometric criteria that define for every stretch of track ahead of time what degree of weaving is permissible, who had the racing line in a given setting, or if one was sufficiently ahead at a given position and steering angle.

      I don’t think either of those are very realistic (or desirable)?

      Of course, it also needs gravel run-off zones on all tracks, but that’s not coming any time soon either …

      1. I totally agree.

        In construction there’s such a thing as ‘defensive architecture’ e.g. placing flower beds on grassy areas that you don’t want people to have picnics. Why? Because nobody really wants to sit on flowers.

        To think you could put a chicane at the end of a long straight (creating a passing opportunity) and expect all passes to be fine…isn’t realistic. Stick a gravel pit there and you’ll naturally get far more fair passing.

        As an aside, as amazingly good as Lewis is and as amazingly well as he’s driven towards this final race, there’s something about this season that seems destined to be Max’s championship.

  8. Only Verstappen benefits if both drivers DNF. If Hamilton takes Verstappen and himself out then Max is WDC; why would Lewis intentionally do that? But Verstappen has every reason to crash both of them out of the race.

    1. @greenflag

      Only Verstappen benefits if both drivers DNF

      Not exactly. If Max is found to be at fault for a double DNF, the stewards can take some championship points off home, handing the win to Lewis.

    2. Because the little s_it will be able to shift the blame to Max and get the MIA/HIA to deduct points from Max, that’s why

      1. Except that’s Max’s racing style, to force a crash, not Lewis’s. Lewis regularly has to avoid Max crashing into him.

        1. And yet Hamilton has regurarly crashed Red Bulls the last couple of years.
          Clean driver only when starting 1st in his rocket.

  9. There is of course an underlying issue here…

    If Max takes out Lewis or they at least make heavy contact and (in so doing determine the championship) it’ll have a far bigger media impact short-term and long-term than if Lewis just takes a lights-to-flag victory.

    Anything less than a crash will seem to many as somewhat anti-climactic.

    1. I’m a Lewis fan and not a cult member. So, if Verstappen wins the race fair and square I be disappointed but will have to accept it because it’s just racing. But if he pulls the cheap tricks like he did in Brazil and Jeddah in the name “defence” and “hard racing” and crashes Lewis out, I really hope FIA dishes harshest punishment possible and make an example out of him.

      1. I’m neither a Max nor a Lewis fan, but I whole-heartedly agree with your second sentence.

      2. If the stewarding were consistent and the rules were clear then I’d back that 100%…but I don’t think we live in that world yet.

  10. Everybody expecting a wheel-banging, race-long battle for the lead – lets not rule out a mechanical DNF, tire failure, dodgy pit stop (imagine the pressure on the crew this race!) or another untimely red flag deciding this instead…

    1. All of those are part of F1 @joeypropane. What Verstappen attempted to do in Brazil and Jeddah, but ultimately failed, is not F1 and shouldn’t have any place in this sport.

  11. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    9th December 2021, 15:54

    Max has on a couple of occasions claimed it makes no difference to him if he doesn’t win so if Hamilton is faster and has a chance to overtake he should have no reason to try and crash him out.

    1. @andyfromsandy Yes, I’m watching that particular ‘Max thread’ with interest. There’s the ‘Max: I don’t care’ thread, channeling Kimi Raikkonen; the ‘Max: Lewis is just as bad/worse!’ thread, actually a Max/Horner special production; the ‘Max: hard racer not soft penalty-winner’ thread, especially for the orange fans; the ‘Max: but they let me do that in the past!’ thread, especially for Masi/his mum…

  12. Let’s be honest everybody’s tired of Mercedes/Hamilton domination, except Lewis fans of course. Whatever Max will do, pushing squeezing or crashing, disqualified or not, it’s still better than 8 Mercedes titles in a row.

    1. There is or was some truth to that. Which begs the question, why did Verstappen defend so unnecessarily badly in Brazil and Saudi Arabia? He was always going to be passed by Hamilton in both races. In Brazil, Hamilton was simply way faster. In SA, Verstappen was on tyres set to fade too much by the end of the race. Had he accepted the inevitable, none of this conversation would be happening, he’d have more support going into the final race and, more to the point, less pressure on his driving and defending. I suspect it’s precisely that possibility of a crash happening, and the outcome likely to be hugely in his favour, that has caused the switch. Now, though, I’m not so sure it was a smart decision.

    2. Absolutely, even cause they basically already won this constructor’s title and have a good chance in the driver’s, given they had the best car for the last few races.

      1. @esploratore1 Verstappen had the best car for the last race, but he blew it twice (crash in Q3 and forced to gamble on medium tyres to make up for his overtaking/defending blunders).

        If he hadn’t cracked under pressure like he did then he would have easily taken the pole and the win.

    3. As a long-time nonpartisan F1 fan, I have mostly enjoyed this season, but I want to see the championship won cleanly, no matter which team wins. Domination of the sport by one team may not be the most interesting scenario, but at least it is legitimate. I was soured on Senna and Schumacher by their end of season antics, and I hope that I won’t feel the same way about Verstappen after this weekend.

    4. “Whatever Max will do, pushing squeezing or crashing, disqualified or not, it’s still better than 8 Mercedes titles in a row.”

      Absolutely not. We all can go watch something else if we are getting tired of seeing HAM/Mercedes winning (or for that matter RedBull back in 2010-13, or Ferrari even before that). To me, this is about FIA setting the standards and rules for the car, the engineering team finding ways to pass the test yet push the limits (flex wings, or what may be), and the FIA trying to revise the tests as necessary. I like this cat & mouse. With respect to the WDC, a driver has to simply acknowledge when he has to concede a corner. To drive as if there’s no other driver on track at all cost, missing corners by miles, etc. are not racing. You do expect anyone to understeer into a corner, so allow for some margin for that if you are the outside guy.

      I would rather see FIA a rule that says the same team cannot win a championship for more than 7 seasons in a row; and be done with it.

    5. Better a Eighth title for Lewis and Mercedes than a 1994 style victory for max.

    6. I don’t see it like that. If the competition is good, the same driver can win as many consecutive championships as they like and I’ll be happy. In the record books it’ll look like Lewis has cruised to 5 titles in a row but we know there was decent competition in 2017, 2018, 2019 (not so much) and 2021 (assuming he wins). Granted, Mercedes were definitely dominant in 2014, 15, 16 and 20. We were lucky to have the battle with Rosberg to keep things interesting at the front.

  13. “Whatever Max will do, pushing squeezing or crashing, disqualified or not, it’s still better than 8 Mercedes titles in a row.”

    Absolutely not. We all can go watch something else if we are getting tired of seeing HAM/Mercedes winning (or for that matter RedBull back in 2010-13, or Ferrari even before that). To me, this is about FIA setting the standards and rules for the car, the engineering team finding ways to pass the test yet push the limits (flex wings, or what may be), and the FIA trying to revise the tests as necessary. I like this cat & mouse. With respect to the WDC, a driver has to simply acknowledge when he has to concede a corner. To drive as if there’s no other driver on track at all cost, missing corners by miles, etc. are not racing. You do expect anyone to understeer into a corner, so allow for some margin for that if you are the outside guy.

    I would rather see FIA a rule that says the same team cannot win a championship for more than 7 seasons in a row; and be done with it.

    1. Believe it or not despite being Schumacher/Vettel fan I started to miss some races during 2002/2004 and 2011/2013. It was just flatly boring to watch. As a kid I was sincerely wondering how Schumacher could be so joyous on the podium, everytime, win after win, how is that possible, Michael, you’ve just won flying away from the start, there’s no threat for you, chill out! Can you immagine how I feel about many of “get in there Lewis, amazing drive” wins?

      Regarding the concept of racing and idea that it has to be clean… I think tennis has high chances to be defined clean, two separated gladiators striking each other with virtual swords. But what about football? It’s two armies battlefield full of literal collisions. This is physical, it can’t be clean and gentle. Same in F1, the idea of pure racing can exist only in rally. Don’t get me wrong, but I think that collisions, even those premeditated, are inevitable part of F1 racing, of course as far as no one gets hurt. The story of Senna and Prost rivalry (including collisions) is cultural heritage of this sport, you just can’t deny it.

      1. And that’s why they are world champions and you’re not. Not meaning that as a slight against you, but you have to have that extreme level of drive and determination to be a midfield runner in F1 let alone the Schumachers, Vettels and Hamiltons of the world which most of the population just doesn’t have. I wouldn’t be surprised if those sorts of people are a little nuts.

  14. Good to see that people didn’t enjoy the Jeddah circus race.

    Both drivers and teams should do the best to win within the rules.

    Liberty probably wants more drama, like the last race, and if they allow similar shenanigans we can be sure they will come with a cheap penalty because they welcome this content., as it keeps F1 being the talk of the town as never before.

  15. That’s why it will be Perez torpedoing into the sidepod of Hamilton into the first corner.

    1. Didn’t know the Hamilton-called entity had a sidepod, I thought it was the car

      Anyway in case Perez did that, his car would be totalled, while #44 might be apparently damaged while doing FLAP after FLAP

      1. Not if he did it properly like Bottas did in Hungary!

        1. Takes a special kind of wingman to execute it to perfection!

  16. Abu Dhabi has been a track that was relatively good for Red Bull for the last few years. Verstappen even easily won here last year. This season their car is a lot more competitive to the point where most of the races it’s the car to beat. Last race by their own accounts he most likely had a half second gap in Q3.

    So indeed Verstappen won’t be worrying about needing to do any overtaking or defending.

  17. I’m just plain over all of this “will he, won’t he” hype that’s being thrown around for this final race. It just smacks of the sort of WWE commercialism that so many of us are afraid that F1 will become.

    To be honest, I don’t believe either driver will be doing anything other than trying to get the absolute best out of themselves and their machinery in this race.

    They both know that if they perform at their best and completely minimise mistakes, they have a great chance of being WDC. Getting distracted by all this silliness is a recipe for losing.

    It’s been a long (waaay to long) season, let’s just sit back and enjoy the final race, congratulate the winner, and congratulate second place for putting up such a darn good fight. Let’s congratulate RBR too for FINALLY bringing a decent package from the start of a season, that was capable of competing with the Mercedes who, frankly have to be congratulated for being able to keep to such a high standard for so long.

    1. With all the hype being build up, probably nothing happens between them and it will be a total anticlimax.
      – one is off pace: unlikely
      – technical issues: maybe
      – one taken out by other driver(s): sad, but racing incident, unless it’s Bottas again or Perez. (ironic would be if Bottas takes out Hamilton or Perez takes out Verstappen!)
      – other reasons?

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