Horner suggests Hamilton was ‘messing around for DRS'

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Horner suggests Hamilton was ‘messing around for DRS’
© PA Images Lewis Hamilton with front wing damage.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner felt Lewis Hamilton was trying to get DRS when he collided with Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia.

As Verstappen slowed down on the straight to allow title rival Hamilton into the lead, at the request of the FIA, Hamilton too would slow, seemingly confused, and drive into the back of Verstappen.

Hamilton suffered front wing damage, initially accusing Verstappen of brake testing him, though Horner was confused as to why the Briton had slowed rather than pass his driver.

To Horner’s mind, it was perhaps because Hamilton wanted DRS down the straight to defend the lead which he would inherit.

“The incident where Lewis has driven up the back of Max, they will go and explain in front of the stewards,” Horner told Sky F1.

“But Max was trying to give the place up, we informed race control that we were going to give the place up, and he lifted off, you can hear I think Lewis has actually lifted off.

“I don’t know whether he is messing around for the DRS line, but it was clear that we were giving the place up.”

Mercedes, and Hamilton also, complained of not being aware of Red Bull and Verstappen’s plan to yield, leading to the confusion and then the collision.

But asked about this, Horner once again returned to his DRS theory.

“It’s weird though because Lewis is slowing down behind him, it sounds like he’s lifted off, so it’s like he didn’t want to pass him there because of the DRS,” said Horner in response to Mercedes’ version of events.

“Very, very frustrating. Very annoying.”

Horner suggests Hamilton was ‘messing around for DRS’
© Provided by PlanetF1 Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton during the Saudi Arabian GP. Jeddah December 2021.

As well as this incident which remains under investigation, Verstappen also picked up a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage at Turn 1, once again in combat with Hamilton over the lead.

And this is a decision which Horner felt was harsh on his team.

“That was a race that was very difficult to manage, I think race control struggled with it as well with the amount of debris and VSCs, restarts, Safety Cars,” he explained.

“I think we feel hard done by with the five-second penalty, Lewis has got overspeed and they’ve both gone wide, they’ve both gone off the circuit, they’ve both gone in hard.

“This is one of the things that we’ve been going on about of ‘let them race’. Does that warrant a five-second penalty? For me I thought it was on the harsh side.”

Verstappen ultimately did let Hamilton through into the lead later in the race, allowing Hamilton to pull away as Verstappen struggled with his tyres.

But having impressed Horner with his driving in the opening sector, Horner was not comfortable with the idea that Verstappen would have been overtaken by Hamilton anyway.

“The first sector is down to the driver, and the next two sectors are engine dominated,” responded Horner to that theory.

“So anybody can drive easy down the straight bits, and I think what Max was able to do through the demands of Sector 1 was truly impressive.

“And it was our only chance of staying ahead, if you look at the difference in performance around the lap, it was remarkable what he was able to do.

“Mercedes had an amazing car today, and I think the reality was they were just that bit quicker.”

 

Asked if Verstappen could have held on to the end on his ailing medium tyres, Horner replied: “We need to see how much damage we’ve picked up at the back of the car, because it was a big old whack in the diffuser.

“And then we saw some cuts on the tyre in the last two or three laps, so we just wanted to bring it home, not take any risks.

“There has been enough action up to that point to think that it’s not worth a puncture.”

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