Hamilton, Verstappen disagree on racing rules

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in a press conference. Qatar, November 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in a press conference in Qatar. November 2021.

Lewis Hamilton could not agree with Max Verstappen’s claim that clarity had been provided on rules of engagement by the FIA.

There was widespread surprise when the stewards chose not to investigate Verstappen’s defence of his lead against Hamilton in Brazil, which saw both drivers leave the track.

Hamilton went around the outside of Verstappen into Turn 4, reaching the corner ahead of his title rival, but Verstappen lunged back up the inside late on the brakes, forcing both off the track but retaining the Sao Paulo Grand Prix lead.

Initially both drivers called it hard racing but after watching it back, Hamilton said his view on the issue had changed.

Either way, what the teams and drivers wanted was clarity from the FIA over what was acceptable on track, and they attempted to provide that in the drivers’ briefing on Friday at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Verstappen felt that goal had been achieved.

“Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of racing, defending and overtaking,” he told reporters in Qatar.

“It’s very hard for the FIA to get everyone on the same line. Of course they decide, but every driver has a different opinion.

“On Friday it was all about sharing opinions and then the FIA explained their thought processes.

“We’ve come a very long way and it was a very long briefing, but it was in the end pretty clear.”

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas speak in Qatar. November 2021.

Hamilton, however, disagreed completely with his title rival.

“No, it’s not clear,” he stated.

“Every driver I think except for Max was asking about…most drivers were asking for clarity but it wasn’t very clear.

“It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. It’s clearly not the white line anymore on overtaking, so we just go for it.

“We just ask for consistency, so if it’s the same as the last race and that’s the same for all of us in those scenarios, then it’s fine.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas backed the Briton’s words, claiming “I don’t think we got an explanation as to what we actually can do”.

And so he will presume Verstappen’s actions in Brazil are now fine going forward.

“At least we know what Lewis and Max ended up having in Brazil, that’s okay, so that’s a good thing to know,” he added.


That at least was something Hamilton could agree with.

“That what happened in the last race is okay,” said Hamilton, confirming his mindset for future similar situations to what he faced in Brazil.