(Reuters) -Seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said title rival Max Verstappen drove over the limit and as if the rules did not apply to him after the pair collided at Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton exclaimed over the team radio that the Red Bull driver had ‘brake-tested’ him after he ran into the back of Verstappen’s car and damaged his front wing.
Race stewards summoned both drivers after the race and found Verstappen “predominantly at fault” for the collision. He was given a time penalty of 10 seconds, with no change to the result, and two penalty points.
Hamilton went on to win, and take the fastest lap, for Mercedes, with Verstappen second in a chaotic race with emotions running high and everything at stake.
The pair are now tied at the top on points with one race in Abu Dhabi remaining.
“I’ve raced a lot of drivers through my life. In the 28 years I’ve come across a lot of different characters,” Hamilton told Sky Sports television.
“There’s a few at the top which are… kind of, yeah, over the limit. Rules kind of don’t apply, or don’t think of the rules,” added the Briton.
Hamilton said Verstappen, who leads Hamilton on race wins 9-8 and will be champion if neither scores another point, was one of those who fell into the category.
“He’s over the limit, for sure,” he said of a youngster who has earned plenty of admirers for his speed and talent while acquiring a reputation for aggressive and uncompromising racing.
“I’ve avoided collision on so many occasions with the guy and I don’t always mind being the one that does that, because you live to fight another day. Which I obviously did.”
Hamilton said he was not informed that his rival had been told to give the lead back after he went off and gained an advantage while defending against Hamilton in an earlier wheel-to-wheel clash.
“I didn’t get the information so I didn’t really understand what was going on,” said the champion. “It was very, very confusing. All of a sudden he started backing up and then kind of moving a little bit.
“I was like ‘Is he trying to play some kind of crazy tactic?’
“Then all of a sudden the message started coming through just as he hit the brakes so hard and I nearly… took us both out,” he added. “It doesn’t matter for him if we both don’t finish. For me we both need to finish.”
Verstappen said he had been downshifting and braking for Hamilton to go past.
“I was just looking in the mirror and waiting for him to pass,” he said. “Maybe there was some confusion going on… they told me on the radio ‘let him by’ so that is immediately what I did.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon)