Max Verstappen has accused Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell of “trying to squeeze me into the wall” in a “silly” practice incident at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
FP2 at Yas Marina was a hugely interrupted affair, with crashes for Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg causing delays and limiting track time for their competitors.
As the cars returned to the track for the final restart with 16 minutes left on the clock, Verstappen was seen passing Russell and Hamilton in the pit lane, overtaking the latter around the outside of the left-hand turn into the underground pit exit with his tyres just millimetres away from the wall.
Max Verstappen and Mercedes meet again in Abu Dhabi
Russell was heard drawing attention to the incident over team radio, with Verstappen also passing Alpine driver Pierre Gasly in the queue at pit exit.
Verstappen, who was classified third behind Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris in FP2, has hit out at his fellow competitors, insisting they had to get out of the way.
He told Formula 1: “They have to move. They’re all driving slow and I want to go out because we’re all limited on time and they just keep driving in the middle. And when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall, so a bit silly.”
Verstappen is going in search of a record 19th victory of the 2023 season in Abu Dhabi, having secured a third consecutive World Championship in Qatar last month.
The Dutchman has won every race at Abu Dhabi since 2020, memorably clinching his first title in the highly controversial 2021 decider, but believes Red Bull have plenty of work to do to extend that run this weekend.
Asked how much he could learn from Friday’s running, he said: “Not so much and also, from our side, the balance was very off: a lot of understeer, a lot of jumping, so definitely a few things to figure out for tomorrow.
“A lot to figure out for FP3 to be good in qualifying, but we’ll see. I didn’t expect it to be so far off, so it’s a bit of a question mark for us. We’re still P3, it’s not too bad, but balance-wise it can be a lot better.”