Verstappen takes jibe at Hamilton’s seatbelt fine

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. USGP podium October 2021.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on the podium in Austin. United States GP October 2021.

Max Verstappen has sarcastically said he will consider loosening his safety belts rather than touch a rival car in future as that is “cheaper”.

While Verstappen and his title rival Lewis Hamilton have been busy on track, squabbling over the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, they have also been keeping the stewards busy.

Brazil in particular saw them working overtime, largely due to the rear wing on Hamilton’s Mercedes W12 failing a DRS test, although it ultimately went deeper than that.

Verstappen was caught on film touching that rear wing in parc ferme, and although the stewards determined he was not at fault for it failing the test, they imposed a fine on him of €50,000.

Hamilton was in the wars also that race weekend, excluded from the qualifying results for that rear wing issue, while he already had a five-place grid penalty for taking on a new Internal Combustion Engine.

And to cap it off, he was fined €5,000 for breaching seat belt regulations, with a further €20,000 suspended through 2022.

So, all things considered, Verstappen made a sarcastic comparison between the penalties.

Lewis Hamilton wheel to wheel with Max Verstappen. Austin October 2021
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and his title rival Max Verstappen racing wheel to wheel. Austin October 2021

“I’m not allowed to touch a rear wing anymore, that’s for sure. If you do, you have to pay a big fine, but apparently it’s cheaper to drive without the belts. So I’ll think about it,” he jibed in an interview with DAZN, quoted by Soymotor.com.

There are now only two rounds remaining of the 2021 season and the title race has the potential to go all the way to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Before that though, Verstappen will have the opportunity to wrap up a first Drivers’ Championship title at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, taking an eight-point lead over Hamilton into the race weekend.

 

To be held around the newly-built Jeddah Street Circuit, which is expected to be the fastest street venue on the calendar, Hamilton’s Mercedes team in theory should be favourites to win.

While Mercedes and Red Bull were around level in Qatar for straight-line speed, Hamilton will be using the Internal Combustion Engine he debuted in Brazil to dominant effect.

However, with the Mercedes power units known to degrade with mileage, it remains to be seen just how mighty it will be in Saudi Arabia.

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Has Hamilton made more mistakes this year, or just more costly ones?

Lewis Hamilton has denied that he is making more mistakes this season.