Lewis Hamilton has insisted he’s relaxed about his chances of winning another F1 Drivers’ Championship amid his fierce rivalry with Max Verstappen. The Brit boosted his hopes of claiming the prize with victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday. Yet he still trails his rival with one race to go.
It’s been an enthralling F1 season so far, with Hamilton bouncing back after a slow start.
However, with just next week’s race in Abu Dhabi to go, the Brit still has plenty of work to do if he’s to claim the prize.
Hamilton, who has previously won seven Championships over the course of his career, needs to better Verstappen’s result to emerge victorious again.
He enhanced his hopes of doing that in Saudi Arabia in Sunday, beating his 24-year-old rival to take 26 points.
Yet when quizzed on if he’s feeling the tension, Hamilton produced a confident response.
“I’m personally chilled,” he told Formula1.com.
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“I feel like I’m in the boxing ring and I’m ready to go.”
Key to Hamilton winning the race in Saudi Arabia was a penalty given to Verstappen for his Turn 1 incident on Lap 37.
The Belgian-Dutch drive was, not for the first time this year, penalised after they’d crashed on the grid.
And Hamilton said of Verstappen: “I’ve raced a lot of drivers through my life in the 28 years.
“I’ve come across a lot of different characters and there’s a few at the top which are over the limit. Rules kind of don’t apply, or they don’t think of the rules.
“[Max] is over the limit for sure.
“I’ve avoided collisions on so many occasions with the guy, and I don’t always mind being the one that does that, because you live to fight another day, which I obviously did.
“Then he obviously brake-tested [me], I think to try and get the DRS into the last corner to overtake me again back into Turn 1, so there was a commotion. I thought that I’d lost my wing.”
Hamilton also admitted the incident was ‘very confusing’.
“I didn’t get the information,” he continued.
“So I didn’t really understand what was going on. It was very, very confusing.
“All of a sudden, he started backing up and then kind of moving a little bit… I was like, is he kind of like trying to play some crazy tactic? I don’t know.
“Then all of a sudden the message started coming through. He hit the brakes so hard, and I nearly went completely up the back of him and took us both out.
“For him, it doesn’t matter if we don’t both finish. For me, we both need to finish.
“It was apparent that he was trying to let me past, which was what he had been asked to do, but before the DRS zone, and so then it would have meant he would have just DRS’d back past me in the last corner – followed me and then DRS’d me in to Turn 1.
“So that was the tactic. But the worse part was just the steep heavy braking that happened at one point, which is when we collided. That was the dangerous part.”
Verstappen, meanwhile, has hit out at the decision to penalise him.
“Luckily the fans have a clear mind about racing because what happened today is unbelievable,” he said.
“I’m just trying to race and this sport these days is more about penalties than about racing. For me this is not Formula 1 but at least the fans enjoyed it.
“I gave it all today but clearly not quick enough. But still, happy with second.”