Hamilton accuses Verstappen of being 'over the limit'

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Lewis Hamilton made it clear that he felt his Red Bull rival Max Verstappen had gone too far in their epic clash in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday evening.

"He’s over the limit for sure. It doesn’t matter for him if we both don’t finish. For me, we both need to finish," Hamilton stated. "I've avoided collisions on so many occasions with the guy.

"Today I was just trying to do my talking on track, keep my car between the white lines and do it the right way," he continued. "I really have to try and just keep my cool out there, which was really difficult to do."

Matters came to a head in Jeddah when the pair made contact after being locked in a bad-tempered race-long fight for victory, after Verstappen took the lead during a second restart following accidents for Sergio Perez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin.

Verstappen then cut the corner at turn 1 on lap 37 while defending his lead and was told by his team that he had to hand over the position to Hamilton or risk a penalty from race control.

However when the Dutch driver hit the brakes to slow up, Hamilton was caught unawares and ran into rear of the Red Bull, damaging his own front wing in the process and accusing his rival of brake testing him.

"He obviously brake-tested to try and get the DRS again into the last corner, to overtake me again back into turn 1 so there was a commotion," he told . "I thought that I lost my wing!"

"I didn't quite understand why he suddenly hit the brakes quite heavily and then I ran into the back of him," Hamilton continued. "There were just so many different, crazy curveballs that were sent.

"I didn't get the information, so I didn't really understand what was going on," he said. "All of a sudden he started backing up, and then kind of moving a little bit. I was like, is he trying to play some kind of crazy tactic? I don't know.

"Then all of a sudden the message started coming through - like, just as he braked. He hit the brakes so hard, and I nearly went completely up the back of him and took us both out.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 front wing 05.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah

"Then he moved on so I didn't understand exactly what was going on, and I got a message afterwards that he was going to let me past so it was a bit confusing."

Both drivers have been summoned to the stewards office to discuss the incident, described as "an alleged breach of Article 2 (d) Chapter IV Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code" for causing a collision, with potential penalties up to and including disqualification.

Even when he later learned that Verstappen was going to let him go by, Hamilton hesitated with the Red Bull showing little sign of slowing up again except at a point where he would be able to use DRS to immediately reverse the swap.

Verstappen did eventually let Hamilton pass but by then race control had decided he'd taken too long and handed him a five second time penalty on top, giving Hamilton a hard-fought victory that puts him level on points with with his rival heading into the season finale at Abu Dhabi next weekend.

"I've been racing here a long time but that was definitely incredibly tough," Hamilton acknowledged afterwards. "Trying to be as sensible and as tough as I could be out there, but also sensible.

"With all my race experience over the years, just keeping the car on track and staying clean was difficult," he said.

"But we persevered as a team, because we had all sorts of things thrown at us in the second half of the season," adding that his team mate Valtteri Bottas had also played a pivotal role in the closing minutes by taking third place with a last lap pass on Esteban Ocon.

"Valtteri did a great job today to get some points," an exhausted Hamilton said. "So great points for the team. This is for all the guys and girls back to the factory."

The podium finish for Bottas together with victory and a bonus point for fastest lap for Hamilton mean that Mercedes are now 28 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors standings after Sergio Perez crashed out of Sunday's race.

Hamilton is certainly up for the showdown: "I'm personally chilled. I feel like I'm in a boxing ring, and I'm ready to go," he said. "It'll be interesting to see what happens."

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