Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton relish US GP scrap
Verstappen wins duel as title-chasing Hamilton backs out
By Pete Gill and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 22/10/18 1:20pm
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen relished their wheel-to-wheel confrontation during the US GP - a clash F1 fans will hope will become a regular occurrence next year.
Hamilton caught the Red Bull in the closing stages at Austin and briefly appeared to have edged ahead as the pair fought for second place. But with Verstappen refusing to yield, Hamilton, partly mindful of his championship position, had to call off the battle.
"I wasn't taking any risks," said Hamilton. "I caught the marbles and it caught me out. But I enjoyed it ultimately, I wish there were more laps towards the end."
Hamilton had joked in a pre-race feature with Sky F1 that he tried to avoid Verstappen on track, and admitted on Sunday night: "If it's Max, you give a lot of space."
Told of Hamilton's remarks, Verstappen responded: "I think that's a good thing. They might make it sound like I'm a little bit more risky but I'm just a hard racer."
And the Dutchman added: "It's always good to race against world champions. He was very fair. Of course he's also thinking about the championship. It was cool."
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Hamilton also acknowledged that the 'championship factor' had influenced his level of aggression as he duelled with Verstappen and Raikkonen.
"I was trying to win the race but you look at the two guys next to me, they're not fighting for a championship so I had to be very very careful how I navigated around them," Hamilton said. "Championships are not won by fighting and making silly mistakes.
"I went through that corner, I gave him way too much space just to be sure that I didn't get clipped, for example, didn't get taken out because I didn't know if you would understeer into me or could be aggressive.
"If that was me and Seb, for example, I would have been a lot more tighter and more aggressive if we were fighting for the championship, for example, but there was no need. The key was that I at least finished ahead of Seb and for me it doesn't matter when you win the championship as long as you get it done."
What Hamilton and Verstappen said after the race
Hamilton and Verstappen continued their battle with good humour after the race when they spoke about their on-track clash in the press conference...
Verstappen: "Following Kimi that closely, it's not great for my tyres, so I was struggling a bit more with the tyres. Then Lewis came close and yeah, we had a few corners where I had to close the door a little bit. Then he tried around the outside - but I was on the edge already in the fast corners so I was just sliding a lot. Then I saw also that Lewis ran out of room and then if you go a bit wide you get a lot of marbles on the tyres so it takes like a lap before they have grip again."
Hamilton: "Was it close between us? I think I gave you too much space."
Verstappen: "I think you could have squeezed a bit more! Yeah!"
Hamilton: "I never know with you. I didn't want a coming to come together…"
Verstappen: "A bit of wheel-banging is...I was also thinking 'I don't know what Lewis is going to do here!'"
Hamilton: "I couldn't see you!"
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Frustrated Ricciardo 'punched wall'
While Verstappen celebrated finishing second after starting just 18th, there was more frustration and disappointment for Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo, who will move to Renault next year, hasn't finished on the podium since winning the Monaco GP in May and was forced to retire from fourth position in Austin due to a car failure.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner revealed Ricciardo punched a wall in his driver's room as the Australian's frustration boiled over.
"l feel so sorry for him because it looks like the identical power unit failure that he had in Bahrain," Horner told Sky F1. "He was driving a strong grand prix. I'm sure he will be having a word with his future employers about it.
"He has just taken his frustration out in his room by putting his fist through a wall and you can totally relate to that. He knows the team isn't to blame in any way, we are doing all we can."
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