Formula 1: Hamilton and Verstappen crash at 190mph
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Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious in last night’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but it didn’t come without controversy. He clashed with his title rival Max Verstappen on multiple occasions – the Dutchman was penalised for two incidents of dangerous and unfair driving. The Red Bull driver said after the race he disagreed with the decisions, but Hamilton branded Verstappen “crazy” for his driving style. FIA chief Michael Masi was also at the centre of the drama, with Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner criticising his calls.
He said: “I think we’re over-regulated.
“There’s rules about 10 car lengths, then the formation lap isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart. It feels that there’s too many rules.
“It felt like today the sport missed Charlie Whiting [former FIA Formula 1 Race Director] I’m sorry to say, but the experience that he had.
“It’s obviously frustrating, but it’s difficult for Michael [Masi] and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue, type of circuit, with the amount of debris and types of corner there are. But it’s the same for everybody.”
Masi has also clashed with Hamilton in the past, as seen in 2020 when he said he was personally offended by the Mercedes driver’s comments.
Hamilton accused the FIA of putting F1 drivers’ lives at risk in the interests of spicing up the on-track action.
It came as the race resumed at the Tuscan Grand Prix after a safety car was called onto the track.
But Masi hit back saying he sees the Brit’s remarks as a personal attack because his priority is the drivers’ safety.
He said: “From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount, full stop. End of story.
“In my capacity as the race director and safety delegate, point blank, that’s where my role sits as the sporting integrity and safety.
“And anyone that says otherwise is actually quite offensive.”
This wasn’t the only time Hamilton and the FIA came to blows in recent years.
Hamilton got angry after being penalised by the stewards for performing two illegal practice starts at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton slammed the decision as “b*******” and added: “I’m pretty sure no one has ever got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before.
“I didn’t put anyone in danger, I’ve done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned. But it is to be expected. They are trying to stop me.
“Whenever a team is at the front, you face scrutiny. Everything on our car is checked, double-checked, triple-checked.
“They are also changing rules such as the engine modes [believed to have favoured Mercedes in qualifying], so there are lots of things they are putting in the way to keep the racing exciting. It feels like we are fighting uphill.”
Hamilton was chasing Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins at the time, and could have equalled the German’s tally if it were not for the penalty.
But Masi dismissed Hamilton’s comments.
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He responded: “If Lewis wants to raise something, as I have said to him before, the door is always open.
“I am more than happy to discuss anything. As the FIA, we are the sporting regulator to administer the regulations. We have the stewards as an independent judiciary to adjudicate those.
“There was an infringement and it doesn’t matter if it was Lewis or any one of the other 19 drivers.
“If a breach of the regulations occurred, the stewards will consider it on its merits.”
Hamilton now holds the world record for the number of wins at 103 races.
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