Red Bull and Fer­rari mix it up again in Mex­ico City

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The Mex­i­can Grand Prix threw more heat into an al­ready spicy ri­valry be­tween Red Bull and Fer­rari.

Red Bull driv­ers Max Ver­stap­pen and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo were both en­gaged in late-race du­els with Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel that re­sulted in penal­ties, two driv­ers be­ing bumped from the podium and plenty of curs­ing.

All of it nearly over­shad­owed Lewis Hamil­ton’s crit­i­cal vic­tory Sun­day as he chases Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg for the sea­son championship.

At the age of 19, Ver­stap­pen has stormed through his sec­ond For­mula One sea­son with his first ca­reer vic­tory, five more podium fin­ishes and ag­gres­sive moves that have drawn com­plaints from other teams - no­tably Fer­rari - and safety warn­ings from race of­fi­cials.

That suc­cess helped push Red Bull past Fer­rari into sec­ond place in the team championship, pil­ing more frus­tra­tion onto a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son for the Ital­ian team.

The lat­est flare-ups started when Vet­tel and Ver­stap­pen were bat­tling for third in Mex­ico City.

Vet­tel tried to pass Ver­stap­pen head­ing into a turn af­ter the long straight at the Au­to­dromo Her­manos Ro­driguez. Ver­stap­pen swung wide through the grass sim­i­lar to what Hamil­ton did on the open­ing lap - and held po­si­tion.

Vet­tel was fu­ri­ous that Ver­stap­pen made an il­le­gal move. The Red Bull team even ad­vised Ver­stap­pen to yield po­si­tion to the Fer­rari.

Ver­stap­pen ig­nored the call. Vet­tel cursed in his car ra­dio and shouted, “He has to let me go! Move! Move for God’s sake!”

Af­ter the check­ered flag, Vet­tel drove up be­side Ver­stap­pen and wagged his fin­ger. Ver­stap­pen re­sponded by shak­ing his fist.

The teenager went all the way to the podium-fin­isher’s cool-down room be­fore learn­ing that race of­fi­cials pe­nalised him five sec­onds for leav­ing the track and gain­ing an ad­van­tage. Bumped to fifth, Ver­stap­pen stormed off as Vet­tel was brought in for the post-race cham­pagne cel­e­bra­tion. But Vet­tel’s smiles wouldn’t last. About two hours af­ter the race, Vet­tel was pe­nalised for a dan­ger­ous de­fen­sive move against Ric­cia­rdo on lap 70 of 71. For­mula One of­fi­cials have warned driv­ers such moves would be pun­ished, prompted in part by Fer­rari’s pre­vi­ous com­plaints about Ver­stap­pen.

“I was frus­trated by that,” Ric­cia­rdo said. “We know Max’s moves have been a bit ques­tion­able. That was the same case to­day with Seb. Don’t get me wrong, I love rac­ing, I love rac­ing hard and even a bit of con­tact. But this whole mov­ing un­der brak­ing, you don’t move af­ter you’ve been out-foxed.”

Ver­stap­pen, how­ever, was seething over be­ing pe­nalised. He took some pointed shots at Vet­tel, a four-time cham­pion who hasn’t won this sea­son.

“He’s a very frus­trated guy, shout­ing on the ra­dio like a child,” Ver­stap­pen said.

Vet­tel said Ver­stap­pen should “calm down” on the track.

“I think he’s a great kid. He’s fast, he’s push­ing, he’s re­defin­ing the lim­its, not in a neg­a­tive way, but in terms of play­ing with the car,” Vet­tel said. “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. I think he’s ul­ti­mately hurt­ing him­self more than he’s help­ing him­self.”

First place fin­ishe Lewis Hamil­ton, of Bri­tain, left, cel­e­brates with third place fin­isher Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, of Ger­many Photo: AP

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