'Should be ashamed': F1 fans rage over Max Verstappen 'disgrace'

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·Sports Editor
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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, pictured here after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Fans thought Max Verstappen didn't deserve to be on the podium. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

F1 fans were left raging on Sunday when Max Verstappen wasn't punished for an ugly incident with Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton hunted down Verstappen to win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix for Mercedes and slash his Red Bull rival's championship lead to 14 points with three races remaining.

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Verstappen finished second with Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes on an astonishing, controversial and roller-coaster weekend in Brazil that will go down as one of Hamilton's greatest and most satisfying drives.

The Briton was fastest in qualifying for Saturday's sprint that set Sunday's grid, and then demoted to the back of the field after his car's rear wing failed a technical inspection.

He went from 20th to fifth on Saturday, dropping back to 10th on Sunday's grid after an engine penalty but hungry for much more.

The rest was history as the 36-year-old took his third win in Brazil and set a record for victory in Brazil from the lowest grid position, beating Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's 2003 win from eighth.

"Lewis, that's how you overcome a 20-place disqualification," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told him over the radio after he took the chequered flag in front of a cheering crowd.

Hamilton replied: "It was actually 25, but you're right."

Max Verstappen, pictured here appearing to force Lewis Hamilton off the track.
Did Max Verstappen force Lewis Hamilton off the track during the Brazilian Grand Prix? (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

However it very nearly wasn't to be after Hamilton was forced off the track by Verstappen late in the race.

Hamilton was picking off the cars ahead of him with ominous ease and after both had pitted twice, Hamilton surged past Verstappen on lap 59 at the third attempt.

His initial overtake looked to have succeeded until Verstappen forced him wide in a move that appeared to be calculated by the leading car's driver.

However stewards reviewed the incident and ruled that Verstappen didn't have a case to answer, leaving commentators and fans stunned.

Lewis Hamilton closes gap on Max Verstappen

The win was Hamilton's sixth of the season and record-extending 101st of his career.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez finished fourth, pitting on the penultimate lap for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap and deny Hamilton a bonus point.

"What a race. The team did a great job, Valtteri did a great job. With the penalties, it's the hardest race weekend I've had," said Hamilton.

He said his father had reminded him of a race in Bahrain during his days in F3: "When I started last and finished first".

"I never thought we would close the gap like we did today - just never give up and never stop fighting," he said.

"It feels like a first as I haven't had a win for a long time."

Verstappen said: "We tried everything we could today, it was a good battle but at the end we missed a little pace. But it was good fun.

"We still have a decent lead so today was a bit of damage limitation.

"I'm confident, in the coming races we will come back stronger."

A weekend in Brazil that got off to a rocky start had a perfect ending for Hamilton, who not only pulled victory from the jaws of F1's technical rule book and Red Bull but also crucially prevented his arch-rival pulling too far ahead as the gripping title battle nears its conclusion.

Qatar is the stage for Formula One's refreshingly exciting circuit drama next Sunday followed by Saudi Arabia and the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in mid-December.

with agencies

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