Max Verstappen defends Red Bull as Lewis Hamilton lashes out

Lewis Hamilton wasn't pleased with how things went at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Formula One witnessed a thrilling rain-hit sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps, where Max Verstappen emerged victorious despite Oscar Piastri’s impressive challenge. 

However, the spotlight turned on Lewis Hamilton, who faced criticism for colliding with Sergio Perez and was penalised by the stewards.

After crossing the line in fourth place, Hamilton was demoted to seventh due to a five-second penalty for the incident with Perez. 

Red Bull’s Christian Horner accused Hamilton of causing race-ending damage to Perez’s car, but the Mercedes driver defended himself by recalling a famous quote from his childhood hero Ayrton Senna: “As Ayrton said, if you no longer go for a gap that exists, then you are no longer a racing driver. 

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“That is what I did. And when I watched it back it feels like a racing incident to me.”

Hamilton expressed his stance on the situation, highlighting the challenging race conditions and emphasising the need to preserve the essence of racing. 

“The conditions were tricky out there. 

“We are doing our best and it wasn’t intentional. 

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“He was slow and I went up the inside, and I was more than half-a-car length alongside. 

“I feel like we should not be deterred from racing. 

“It would have been nice to finish fourth, but I don’t really care about finishing fourth, I want to win,” he stated.

The FIA stewards handed Hamilton a penalty and added two points to his license. 

Analysing the lap-six incident, they deemed Hamilton predominantly at fault for causing the collision. 

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff supported his driver’s view, asserting that it was indeed a racing incident. 

“This is a sprint race. 

“We want to see them racing… It takes two to tango. 

“It’s a racing incident. For me, that’s really clear,” he said.

The start of the sprint race encountered a delay of 30 minutes due to heavy rain. Safety concerns prevailed, with the track conditions improving over time. 

The decision to reduce the race to just 11 laps was influenced by the need for increased safety measures after a fatal accident in a previous rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship race.

Piastri made strategic tire changes, benefiting from switching to intermediate tires early in the race. 

This allowed him to lead an F1 race for the first time in his career. 

However, Verstappen’s impressive performance saw him track Piastri and secure victory on the Kemmel Straight, extending his championship lead.

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Reflecting on the tire strategy, Verstappen defended the decision to not stop for inters at the start, stating, “No, it was just a safer call. 

“I could have come in first and be blocked by other cars in the pits. 

“We lost one position, but we knew we were quick, and when we put the inter tyres on, we were flying.”