Could Verstappen have stolen Singapore victory when Hamilton was stopped by backmarkers?
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 16/09/18 6:46pm
Max Verstappen says he did not attempt to overtake Lewis Hamilton when the race leader was held up by backmarkers at the Singapore GP because it wouldn’t have been “fair”.
Verstappen finished second behind runaway race-winner Hamilton but had an opportunity to pass the Mercedes driver when he was held up by more than five seconds by slower drivers he was attempting to lap.
The Dutchman, however, opted against trying to take the lead.
“I thought it was not fair anyway with the way he was being held up,” Red Bull’s Verstappen told Sky F1.
“I had an opportunity but you can’t overtake into Turn 10 and I didn’t want to take the risk.”
Romain Grosjean was handed a five-second time penalty by stewards for ignoring blue flags and failing to let Hamilton through quickly, and both Hamilton and Verstappen voiced their discontent at the time over team radio.
“These guys are crazy,” Hamilton said, while a raging Verstappen asked: “What the **** are they doing?”
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Hamilton: Max missed opportunity
Speaking in the post-race press conference, Hamilton admitted the only time he feared he wouldn’t take victory was when the backmarkers interfered.
“It definitely got a little bit interesting towards the end with some of the backmarkers, which was extremely difficult,” he explained.
The Englishman, who has extended his championship advantage to 40 points, turned to Verstappen and added: “You had an opportunity, really.
“I had to put up a massive defence and even then I was racing the backmarkers – they still weren’t lifting off as I was alongside them.”
But Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Verstappen simply didn’t have sufficient pace to beat Hamilton despite another inspired performance from the Dutchman.
“We just didn’t have Lewis’ pace, he always had a tenth in hand,” said Horner.
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Whiting: Worst ignoring of blue flags I’ve seen
Race Director Charlie Whiting took the unusual step of entering the podium warm-down room to personally apologise to Hamilton and Verstappen for the backmarkers’ interference.
Grosjean’s time penalty was added on to his race result, demoting the Haas driver to 15th.
And Whiting made his displeasure with Grosjean plain in his own post-race briefing:
“I think Romain forget the golden rule of blue flags and that’s if, you are in a battle, you’ve got to forget about your own battle and move over,” said Whiting.
“I’ve drilled that into them many, many times and he completely forgot about it. The light panels were flashing with his race number on and Lewis was much, much faster.
“It was one of the worst cases of ignoring blue flags that I’ve seen for a long time.”
Drivers’ Championship – top six
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||281|
|2) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||241|
|3) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||174|
|4) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||171|
|5) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||148|
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