Hill: Title contenders have 'obligation to be sporting'

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 crashed at the first chicane. 12.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Monza
© XPB 

F1 world champion Damon Hill says Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have "an obligation to be sporting" in the final rounds of the 2021 championship and avoid a controversial epilogue to their title fight.

Red Bull's Verstappen holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton ahead of this weekend's penultimate round in Jeddah.

"But the Mercedes driver's dominant displays in Sao Paulo and last time out in Qatar clearly indicate that the momentum has shifted in favour of the Briton.

The two men have suffered several flash points this season, coming to blows on the track at Silverstone – where Verstappen heavily crashed – and in Monza where both protagonists retired on the spot.

Hill hopes that the two contenders will keep it clean during their final showdowns of 2021 and offer fans a spectacular but fair concluding of glory.

"I think it is sad for F1 [if the title is decided by a crash]," said Hill, quoted by Motorsport.com.

"I just feel like we've got an obligation to be sporting, I think.

"It would be great if there was a way of getting it resolved, not amicably, but certainly to a satisfaction of... I want to come away with a feeling that this has been a great championship, closely fought by two worthy opponents and the best man in the best team won.

"You don't want that kind of thing hanging over the championship at the end."

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with second placed Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in parc ferme. 14.11.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo

Hill is no stranger to controversial title shootouts, having been in the running for a maiden crown against Michael Schumacher in the final race of the 1994 season that took place in Adelaide.

The then Williams driver was hunting down his rival when the latter committed a mistake which opened the door for Hill to gain the upper hand, only for Schumacher to purposefully slam in the Briton's face, a move that took both drivers out of the race but left the German with the title.

Could a similar scenario unfold in Abu Dhabi if the championship goes down to the wire? Hill wouldn't dismiss it and suggests the FIA should perhaps warn F1's title contenders that any unsporting behaviour could be met with a severe sanction.

"Let's say Max is in the lead and it comes to a wheel-to-wheel thing," said Hill.

"I would say that for a driver to resist the temptation to be an aggressive defender is extremely high and it's very difficult to resist that.

"I think the point is how can the sport take steps to prevent an unhappy ending to this, you know? We've had enough of these championships decided controversially.

"And I think that for all the good work that the sport does it's slightly undone when we have an unsatisfactory resolution.

"Maybe some sort of clear indication before we go into this that they may decide to impose a points penalty if we have a clash that is deemed to be unfair. And that may be the only way of preventing something like that happening."

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