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Hamilton wary of Verstappen tactics as title fight goes to final race


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ewis Hamilton is wary he might not finish the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a thrilling and chaotic penultimate race in Saudi Arabia yesterday.

Hamilton sealed a hat-trick of wins at a pivotal point in the season and set the fastest lap to move himself level on points with Max Verstappen.

But Verstappen was branded “f***ing crazy” by his title rival after some questionable tactics, which led to a 10-second penalty for the Dutchman. And Hamilton warned he expected more of the same in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“For him, it doesn’t matter if we don’t both finish,” he said. “For me, we both need to finish but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

A DNF for both drivers would give a first world title to Verstappen by virtue of his nine grand prix victories to Hamilton’s eight with that one race remaining.

Twice in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen had to give back race position after being deemed to have gained the advantage illegally, while Hamilton twice had contact, first clashing with Esteban Ocon as Verstappen scythed past to take the lead and again in driving into the back of Verstappen.

It was that incident, which saw his in-race penalty of five seconds doubled by the race stewards afterwards, the move deemed “erratic” and one labelled as brake testing by Mercedes.

Both the race and events in the stewards’ office afterwards only intensified the bad blood between Mercedes and Red Bull, a captivating sideshow to the main event of the title battle.

The hope is it is not a championship fight that ends up with the Abu Dhabi rulemakers but Hamilton, who likened the tussle to being in the boxing ring, believes the racing authorities need to take a closer look at his rival’s tactics.

AP

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