Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will go to the final race of the Formula 1 season level on points after the Dutchman was handed down a 10-second penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
In a race filled with drama, title rivals Verstappen and Hamilton repeatedly tangled on the track - the most shocking of which was when the Red Bull driver braked sharply, and Hamilton drove into him.
Verstappen had been told to yield and give a place back to Hamilton after forcing him off the track earlier in the race, but Hamilton was unaware of the development and failed to avoid a collision on lap 37.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
'Just want a clean championship' claims Wolff; Horner says he didn't 'know what Hamilton was doing'
06/12/2021 AT 12:31
“I’ve raced a lot of drivers in 28 years,” Hamilton said. “I’ve come across a lot of different characters and there’s a few at the top which are kind of over the limit. The rules kind of don’t apply, they don’t think of the rules.
He’s over the limit, for sure.
"I’ve avoided collision 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 did."
The footage made for grim viewing for even ardent Verstappen fans, as he slowed while in the centre of the track - as opposed to completely moving across - and raced away at the moment of impact.
He was summoned to the stewards, and could have faced disqualification from the race, but was handed down a 10-second time penalty.
A report from the stewards read: "At Turn 21 the driver of car 33 [Verstappen] was given the instruction to give back a position to car 44 [Hamilton] and was told by the team to do so 'strategically'. Car 33 slowed significantly at Turn 26.
"However, it was obvious that neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3. The driver of Car 33 stated that he was wondering why Car 44 had not overtaken and the driver of Car 44 stated that, not having been aware at that stage that Car 33 was giving the position back, was unaware of the reason Car 33 was slowing.
"In deciding to penalise the driver of Car 33, the key point for the Stewards was that the driver of car 33 then braked suddenly (69 bar) and significantly, resulting in 2.4g deceleration.
"Whilst accepting that the driver of Car 44 could have overtaken Car 33 when that car first slowed, we understand why he (and the driver of Car 33) did not wish to be the first to cross the DRS [line]. However, the sudden braking by the driver of Car 33 was determined by the Stewards to be erratic and hence the predominant cause of the collision and hence the standard penalty of 10 seconds for this type of incident, is imposed."
As he crossed the line 16 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas in third place, Verstappen was effectively given no punishment other than two penalty points being added to his licence.
Many observers felt a more serious punishment would be handed down, but it was not and means they will head to Abu Dhabi for the final race locked together on points.
Verstappen is top by virtue of having more wins this season, meaning if they both fail to finish the Dutchman will pip Hamilton to the title.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
‘That guy is f*****g crazy’ – Hamilton rages after Verstappen incident
05/12/2021 AT 21:41
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Hamilton wins drama-filled Saudi Arabian GP to set up thrilling season finale
05/12/2021 AT 19:42