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Formula 1

The unseen moments that led to Verstappen and Hamilton run-in

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Max Verstappen labelled Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton a “stupid idiot” after a bizarre run-in during Friday’s second United States Grand Prix practice session.

The world feed broadcast a replay of Hamilton and Verstappen, who are separated by just six points in the world championship, going wheel-to-wheel during FP2 at the Circuit of the Americas.

An external tracking shot showed points leader Verstappen rejoining the track from the run-off exiting the final corner and running alongside Hamilton all the way up to Turn 1.

The run through Turn 1, where Hamilton stayed ahead on the inside, was then shown from Verstappen’s onboard – including Verstappen sticking his middle finger up at the Mercedes driver while his radio message “Ha, stupid idiot” was played over the top.

What the live coverage of FP2 failed to show was how the incident originated.

It began almost one minute before Verstappen flipped his rival off and laughed over the radio.

Both drivers were on warm-up laps as Hamilton slowed while behind the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly approaching the tightening Turn 15 left-hander in the final sector.

While Hamilton checked up, Verstappen decided to overtake him on the inside into Turn 15.

That put Verstappen right behind Gasly and meant he would have to slow down considerably in the final few corners to create a gap.

Hamilton did not give him space to do that, sticking close through the triple right-hander of Turns 16, 17 and 18.

He got even closer into the penultimate left-hander and even appeared to lightly lock the front left as he had to avoid the slowing Red Bull at the apex.

Hamilton backed off again as Verstappen covered the middle of the track approaching the final corner and slowed down more to leave space to Gasly.

At that moment, Hamilton jinked left and overtook Verstappen just before the last turn.

Hamilton took a wider line into the final corner to set himself up for the run onto the start-finish but Verstappen had accelerated in response to being passed and was alongside the Mercedes.

Verstappen opted to keep accelerating and ran four wheels onto the run-off on the exit of the corner, prompting the brief side-by-side fight that was captured on the world feed.

“We were all lining up to go for our laps, so I don’t really understand what happened there,” Verstappen protested afterwards.

Oct 18 : Verstappen or Hamilton: Who is F1 title favourite?

During the Sky Sports F1 and F1TV coverage of FP2, ex-F1 driver and pundit Jenson Button claimed Verstappen had been ‘rattled’ by Hamilton.

Later in the session Verstappen reacted badly to encountering traffic as he was about to start a qualifying simulation and took it upon himself to abort his planned run and pit.

Both drivers have played down any needle between them as the championship heads into the final stages.

They have already collided twice with big consequences this season, first at Silverstone where Verstappen was pitched into the barrier at high-speed on the opening lap and then at Monza where both cars retired with Verstappen’s Red Bull ending up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

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