Verstappen started from second, while Hamilton was 10th after going from last to fifth in the sprint following back-to-back blows to his title charge.
Firstly he was handed a five-place grid penalty for the Grand Prix itself after Mercedes opted for a new engine, then he was excluded from qualifying for the sprint after a DRS infringement. Verstappen, meanwhile, was handed a €50,000 fine after touching Hamilton’s car, a “breach of the parc ferme regulation” according to stewards.
Once the main race started, though, it was quickly back to that duo fighting for first place, with Hamilton twice trying to overtake leader Verstappen and the Dutch driver weaving across to send Hamilton off-course. The stewards noted the incident but opted against any punishment – which the Mercedes man says he knew would be the case.
“I knew when they said they were going to investigate, I just knew that that’s the decision they would come to, whether it was right or wrong,” he said to Sky Sports F1.
“I didn’t let it faze me, I just kept racing.”
Questioned on whether there should have been any action, Hamilton simply pointed out it wasn’t decisive as he roared to victory in Sao Paulo, and therefore held no further interest for him after what he described as his “hardest” weekend in F1.
“I’m not going to go into that, I need to go look back at it, but it’s a racing incident at the end of the day, probably,” said Hamilton. “It doesn’t really matter, I got the result needed.
“I was just pushing as hard as I could, but from last on the grid and then another five place penalty was, I think the hardest weekend I’ve had.
“But my dad reminded me of 2004 when I was in Formula 3, in Bahrain and I started last and I finished 10th and then I finished first.
“Coming into this weekend I never thought that we would be able to close the gap like we have today.”
Verstappen’s lead at the top of the driver standings is now cut to 14 points, ahead of the season’s final races in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
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