Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Yesterday, Hamilton defied the odds to come back from 10th to beat his title rival Verstappen to first place in São Paulo, Brazil. The British driver delivered the remarkable win despite a weekend where he took two separate penalties and essentially made up 25 places through two different races. Hamilton received a five-place grid penalty for taking a new engine at the beginning of the weekend.
Then, he was made to start Saturday’s sprint qualifying from 20th, which is last place, as Mercedes were found to have breached DRS regulations.
A win on Sunday seemed beyond reasonable expectation, however Hamilton delivered one of the drives of his life and reignited his title hopes by taking first place.
Hamilton went into the race trailing Verstappen by 21 points, however he has now cut the Dutchman’s lead to just 14 points with three races remaining.
This year has seen Hamilton compete in his fiercest title race in years, however the British driver has endured a rivalry with Verstappen since the Dutchman burst onto the scene at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.
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The pair’s competitiveness on the track has at times spilled over to tension off it.
This was certainly the case in November 2019, following the Mexican Grand Prix where Verstappen made first-lap contact with Hamilton.
In the subsequent press conference Hamilton labelled the Red Bull driver as a “magnet” for contact and said “I thought at some stage I’d get torpedoed by Max.”
Sebastian Vettel, who was in the same press conference, added that he treated Verstappen differently to other drivers out of fear of collisions.
Verstappen subsequently hit back by accusing the two drivers of being “disrespectful” and “silly” with their comments about his driving.
Taking particular umbrage at Hamilton’s remarks, Verstappen told Sky Sports: “Looking at turn 1 and 2 in Mexico, I don’t think that happened.
“From my side, it was a bit of a silly comment to make.
“I think I’m always a hard racer, but fair ‒ and I think it’s just not correct. But it’s easy to have a dig at someone.
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“I don’t need to dig into other people in a press conference.
“I think it’s a bit disrespectful and I prefer to fight on track, which I love to do.”
The Red Bull driver, who eventually finished sixth in Mexico city, added that his rivals’ comments were positive “because that means you’re in their heads.”
He added: “From my side it’s fine.
“It’s always positive when they talk about you because that means you’re in their head.
“Of course I love to fight hard, but on the edge. I really want to take the fight to them because that’s what we are here for.
“We are racers, we are in Formula 1 so I think we are the best out there […] and we do fight for victories because that’s what I live for.
“It only shows I’m in their heads and that’s a good thing.”
When Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz asked specifically about Hamilton and Vettel’s criticism, Verstappen said: “I don’t think it’s fair the way they explained it, because I’m not reckless or anything like that.
“That was the part of it I think was not right”.
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