Red Bull chief apologises over initial view of Max Verstappen-Lewis Hamilton incident

The Red Bull chief claims his team “were not treated the same” as rivals Mercedes

Jamie Braidwood
Wednesday 08 December 2021 09:37
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Verstappen and Hamilton go into F1 season finale level on points

Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has apologised and admitted he was wrong to suggest that Max Verstappen did not brake in front of Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The controversial and dramatic incident between the Formula One title rivals occurred when Verstappen was ordered to give his lead of the race back to Hamilton after pushing the Mercedes wide following an attack from the seven-time world champion.

Verstappen slowed down on a straight and braked unexpectedly in front of Hamilton, who drove into the back of his Red Bull car. Both drivers suffered damage following the collision but Hamilton was able to retake the lead and hold on to win his third race in a row and go level on points with Verstappen at the top of the drivers’ standings.

Immediately after the race, in which Verstappen was also handed a five-second penalty, Marko claimed that Red Bull had been “treated unfairly”.

“We are working to prove Max’s braking pressure did not increase when he crashed with Hamilton,” he added. “Hamilton simply misjudged and drove into Max’s car. Unfortunately, that left two big cuts in our rear tyre. That’s why we couldn’t attack anymore.”

Verstappen was subsequently hit with a 10-second penalty after both drivers were called to the stewards following the race and Marko has now backed down from his initial view of the incident.

“At the time of the television interview, I passed on exactly the information I had previously received from the engineers,” Marko told F1 Insider.

“They obviously weren’t right, so I’m sorry.”

Verstappen and Hamilton head into the second-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend level on points following one of the most dramatic and unpredictable F1 seasons in recent memory.

Verstappen has to finish above Hamilton to win a first F1 title and Marko says the Dutchman will have the pace to compete at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.

“Hopefully, the sad chapter of Saudi Arabia has now closed,” Marko added.

“In any case, we are just looking ahead. We want to win in Abu Dhabi and so win the title. We will do everything for this, but we will not take any unfair actions.

“In Saudi Arabia, we already had the pace to keep up with Hamilton. The track in Abu Dhabi should be more accommodating to us.”

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