CAROL’S CORNER: Lewis Hamilton wants to win “the right way”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Carol M. Creasey

It is noticeable that the fight for the championship between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has been more intense this year, mostly because Red Bull produced a dominant car, and Mercedes opted to put their resources into their 2022 challenger.

Lewis has the reputation of being the cleanest driver on the grid, he overtakes safely without taking his competitors off, and is not overly aggressive. On the rare occasion in the past that he has done a wrong move, he has owned up to it and taken responsibility for his actions. And he has always apologised to the driver concerned.

However, this year has been different because Max Verstappen is a very aggressive driver, and he is driving a dominant car, which means he expects to lead the field unchallenged from lights out to the chequered flag. But he underestimates the Briton, because he will fight and challenge him to the very end, as he has done all through his Formula One career.

At the British Grand Prix this year, Verstappen tried to stop Lewis from overtaking by turning his wheel and driving straight into him, but it backfired and Verstappen hit the wall of tyres. There are differing opinions about who was to blame. The stewards deemed it a racing incident, with the Briton predominantly to blame, and gave him a ten-second penalty. Ultimately Lewis overcame that and won the race.

It was noticeable that both Mercedes and Lewis felt he was not at fault, otherwise he would have owned up to it, he is never afraid to do so. Then recently at the Italian Grand Prix, a race which Mercedes were expected to win, or at least get good points, another incident occurred. Verstappen tried to pass Lewis, but his car was not sufficiently ahead to claim the corner, however he still kept going and once again turned his wheel, taking them both out of the race.

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Toto Wolff called it “a tactical foul”, but Damon Hill was more explicit. Having been the victim of a similar situation himself back in the day, he suggested that rather than let Lewis win that race, Verstappen took him out so he could retain his five-point lead over him. This opinion seems to have been shared by other pundits as well. For his part in this incident, which saw his car land on the Briton’s head, Verstappen got a three-place grid penalty and two points on his superlicence from the stewards.

In the last race in Russia, Verstappen took a new engine, so he started at the back of the grid, thus neutralising his penalty, and in a rain soaked ending to the race he managed to climb from seventh place to second. Now Lewis leads in the championship by only two points .

With the ‘Mercedes tracks’ out of the way the next few races will be more even, or even favour Red Bull’s car, which means that Lewis will have to fight with all his might to be at the front. However, he has stated that he won’t be using any dirty tactics, as he wants a clean fight. He would rather lose the championship than lose his dignity. In the past he is quoted as saying he has fought against rivals who would “sell their mother to win”.

Verstappen is a very aggressive driver, and the combination of that coupled with a very fast car is dangerous. Since he arrived in Formula One he has earned nicknames such as Crashtappen and Mad Max just to mention a couple. His attitude of “get out of my way or else I will drive you off” means drivers don’t argue with him, they want to finish the race. But Lewis has shown he won’t be bullied by him, so he now walks a very tight rope in the championship. I sincerely hope the racing gods keep Lewis safe, and I wish him the very best for the championship. He only wants to win on merit, whereas it seems Verstappen will do whatever it takes. Good luck Sir Lewis, your fans are right behind you, as always.

Be sure to follow Carol on Twitter @eagertogo and visit her website!

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