Max Verstappen’s 6 most controversial moments as Hamilton title fight nears end

As the Formula One championship race approaches its climax this weekend in Abu Dhabi, both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will be looking to make history.

For talented youngster Verstappen, this season’s competitive Red Bull has presented him with the first real opportunity of his career to win a championship, while Hamilton is desperate to win a record-extending eighth title.

Their sheer hunger has resulted in numerous clashes in 2021 alone, which has created the perfect backdrop heading into the final race while level on 369.5 points.

That’s as a result of a nail-biting race at Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix where the two constantly changed positions and even collided.

While Hamilton was able to eventually take the victory, Verstappen’s controversial decision to suddenly brake and cause the crash has sparked some debate surrounding his well-known aggressive driving style.

And with the 24-year-old suffering a 10-second time penalty at the end of the race, Daily Star Sport takes a look at the Dutchman’s most controversial moments in F1.

Belgium (2016)

Verstappen’s first major moment of controversy came in 2016 by rubbing shoulders with Raikkonen and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

His bold move up the inside at Turn 1 meant Vettel had no choice but to stick to the left to avoid contact, instead catching team-mate Raikkonen who span out.

The Red Bull driver aggressively moved to the right later in the race to prevent Raikkonen from overtaking, resulting in the Finn having to brake dramatically to avoid a crash.

Hungary (2017)

The young driver furthered his reputation as a risk-taking driver in 2017 by taking out Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Verstappen tried to make amends for being shoved wide at Turn 1 by Valtteri Bottas by pushing hard at Turn 2 and sliding into Ricciardo.

He earned a 10-second time penalty for his transgression while the Australian called the move “amateurish”.

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China (2018)

Verstappen sparked controversy once more at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2018 after clashing with Vettel’s Ferrari.

Having lost ground when going off the road in a tussle with Hamilton, Verstappen was fighting Vettel for third place when a late move at the hairpin saw him catch the tail end of the Ferrari.

Vettel’s spin caused him to finish in a disappointing P7 as he had sought to extend his championship, while Verstappen was given a 10-second tome penalty that resulted in him finishing fifth.

Britain (2021)

In the first major incident between 2021 title hopefuls Verstappen and Hamilton, the Dutchman’s race came to a premature end halfway through the first lap at Silverstone.

Verstappen was in the lead until Hamilton’s front-left tyre caught his rear wheel at Copse corner, sending the 24-year-old veering off the track and into the barriers.

To add insult to injury for the challenger, Hamilton was only handed a 10-second penalty and went on to win while Verstappen was forced to retire and taken to hospital.

Monza (2021)

The rivalry between the pair reached a whole new level at Monza, Italy, when a horrifying lap 26 collision forced both drivers to retire.

Verstappen came up against Hamilton after leaving the pit lane as they approached a high-speed corner, but his was over-eagerness to overtake the Brit saw him run wide and hit the kerb.

The Red Bull was flung into the air and on top of the Mercedes, narrowly avoiding Hamilton’s head while wiping both contenders out of the race.

Brazil (2021)

With Verstappen under pressure to defend his championship lead, he desperately forced an overtaking Hamilton wide at lap 49 of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton called his rival’s move “crazy” as he veered off the track, though Verstappen was able to avoid a penalty.

Still, the Brit went on to finally blitz past Verstappen with 12 laps to go, completing a remarkable win from 10th place as he closed the gap in the championship down to 14 points.

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