Thursday 27 October 2016

WATCH - Kimi Raikkonen slams Verstappen for 'dangerous' driving during Belgium Grand Prix

Philip Duncan

Published 29/08/2016 | 12:15

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, left, steers his car during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, left, steers his car during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps

Max Verstappen is at the centre of a Formula One safety row after leading figures in the sport accused the teen sensation of "dangerous" driving and fear he could cause a "massive accident".

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Verstappen, 18, who became the sport's youngest winner following a masterful display on his Red Bull debut at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, was involved in a number of high-profile incidents in Belgium on Sunday.

The Dutchman, who started from second on the grid, damaged his front wing in a first-corner collision with the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, before banging wheels with the same drivers in separate incidents later in the race.

In defending his position, Verstappen is accused of holding station in the middle of the track before dramatically changing his line under braking. Raikkonen was forced to brake suddenly at close to 200mph when Verstappen adopted such a tactic on Sunday.

And the 36-year-old Finn, who has been involved in a number of on-track tussles with the Red Bull driver this season, swore repeatedly over the team radio in frustration at his opponent's driving.

Raikkonen, who is the eldest driver on the grid, later added: "If I had not braked, we would have had a massive accident. It will happen sooner or later if this doesn't change. I am fine with good, hard racing but that is not correct.

"Other guys defend but they do it correctly. He waits and waits and turns after me and I have to brake and slow down. Maybe it needs an accident before it makes it more clear to everybody. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt."

Verstappen, in only his second season in the sport, strongly refuted any claims of wrong-doing and it is worth noting that the stewards did not penalise the Dutchman at any stage in Sunday's race.

But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also expressed his alarm at Verstappen's aggressive style.

"I just fear that it might end up in the wall heavily one day," said Wolff. "As much as we like his approach, and it's refreshing, for me it's dangerous."

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton remains in charge of the championship following a superb comeback drive from the final row of the grid to the podium.

While Nico Rosberg sauntered to victory from pole, Hamilton remains nine points clear of his Mercedes team-mate after he made up an impressive 18 places to cross the line in third.

And after choosing to serve his engine penalties in Belgium - a punishment which has been lingering over Hamilton since the opening rounds of the season - the British driver will hope to have a trouble-free end to his campaign as he bids to win his fourth championship.

"I will take it one race at a time, but the good thing now is I have these new engines so hopefully we will see a cleaner second half of the season," said Hamilton.

"It definitely has not been the easiest year battling for the title, but today I felt I got back to my comfort level, and I anticipate taking that into the next race. The fight is back on as far as I am concerned."

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