F1: Vettel insists he can win races at Aston Martin
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In December the Belgian won his maiden World Drivers’ Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the most dramatic circumstances, after he pipped Lewis Hamilton to the finish line in the race’s final lap. Hamilton had led for 57 of the 58 laps yet Verstappen’s last lap overtake saw the Red Bull driver finish the season on 395.5 points, ahead of his Mercedes rival’s 387.5 points. Though Hamilton had been cruising out in front on older tyres for much of the race a safety car restart allowed Verstappen to get past Hamilton and secure his 10th race win of the season.
Though clearly the beneficiary of good fortune in Abu Dhabi, across the season Verstappen had finished no lower than second in 18 of 22 races, having suffered DNF’s in three of the other four Grands Prix.
The driver burst onto the scene in 2014, just five days after his 17th birthday, and has since lit up Formula 1 with his fearless driving style and at times abrasive personality.
In 2016 he was at the centre of one of the sports’ most fiery disputes after a long standing tension between Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel reached boiling point.
The furious episode came after months of arguing between Vettel and Verstappen, with the former incensed at the Red Bull driver’s defensive tactics.
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At the Mexican Grand Prix, Verstappen cut the chicane and appeared to gain an advantage over Vettel.
He then acted against his team’s suggestion of handing the place back to the German, who exploded in his cockpit.
Vettel shouted: “He [Verstappen] is a c***.
“Am I the only one, or are you not seeing what I’m seeing? He’s just backing me off into [Daniel] Ricciardo.
“Move, move for f***’s sake. He cut the chicane.
“He has to give me the position. End of story.”
When Verstappen was subsequently told by his team that race director Charlie Whitting ‒ who had over 20 years experience in the paddock before his 2019 death ‒ made no instruction for the Red Bull driver to give back his place, he launched a stunning foul mouthed attack at the official.
He said: “Yeah? Here’s a message to Charlie: f*** off. Honestly f*** off.”
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Verstappen ultimately finished third ahead of the Ferrari driver but was then given a elapsed penalty for leaving the track at turn one and refusing to give the place to Vettel.
The German was bumped up to third yet after the race stewards confirmed that Vettel had been handed a 10-second penalty for a dangerous and erratic defensive move under braking when neck-and-neck with Ricciardo in the penultimate lap.
After the race Verstappen hit back at Vettel for his language and claimed “he needs to go back to school” in order to learn some manners and control his outbursts.
He added: “He’s just a very frustrated guy.
“First of all, he’s shouting on the radio like a child, and he is just like a child.”
When presented with Verstappen’s comments Vettel was far more diplomatic than he appeared in the cockpit.
He said: “I think he’s a great kid.
“He’s fast, he’s redefining the limits ‒ not in a negative way but in terms of pushing the car.
“He’s a skilled kid. I like him in general.
“I think some of the moves on track he needs to learn. He needs to calm down because sometimes I think he’s ultimately hurting himself more than he’s actually helping himself.”
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