Ex-F1 racer turned pundit Martin Brundle has criticised Max Verstappen for turning to unnecessary underhanded tactics on-track.
The Dutchman has proven this season that he is not prepared to back down on-track, with that duty consistently falling upon his title rival Lewis Hamilton whenever they have battled this season.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, though, was arguably the most controversial race of their title battle yet, with Verstappen picking up a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage as he looked to keep the lead out of Hamilton’s grasp.
Post-race he then received a 10-second time penalty, with the stewards judging him to have been predominantly to blame for a bizarre collision between he and Hamilton.
Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton incident (without onboard radio delay) #SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/qppptTGjHj
— F1 To Rule Them All (@F1RulesMedia) December 6, 2021
At the order of his team, Verstappen slowed to let Hamilton through into the lead, but confused as to what was going on Hamilton did not overtake, ultimately hitting the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull and picking up front wing damage.
And Brundle feels that Formula 1 has a real problem in regards to how it control the antics of Verstappen and Red Bull, ploys which are not needed to his mind.
“Once again it appeared that Hamilton and Mercedes’ relentless speed under the Jeddah floodlights was going to win through whatever Max Verstappen and Red Bull could conjure up,” Brundle wrote in his Sky F1 column.
“In this respect F1 has a problem in that the design of the racetracks, particularly with regard to the ‘safety’ run off areas, and the Sporting Regulations, simply can’t contain the way that Verstappen is choosing and needing to go racing at the moment.
“The FIA’s only way to control him is with endless reviews and occasional penalties.
“He’s been playing the game given that, with his points advantage, Hamilton simply can’t afford to have an accident with him and lose an opportunity to reduce the points deficit. Even now despite being absolutely level on points going into the final round, for the first time in F1 since 1974, that remains the case given that he has a 9-8 race victory tally should there be a count-back.
“Such is Max’s car control and cunning he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations. And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies and inconsistencies.
“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous, and have championed him since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2015 when he was in the Toro Rosso. His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.
“And for all his outwardly carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.
“Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had their faults too, and I was on the receiving end from both of them on occasions, but it’s a sizeable dent on their immense reputations, not a positive.”
The 2021 World Champion will be crowned at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, with both Hamilton and Verstappen set to be let loose around the redesigned Yas Marina Circuit level on 369.5 points.
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