Verstappen and Hamilton in Qatar: The old dispute is also raging on the new F1 track

Verstappen and Hamilton in Qatar
The old dispute is also raging on the new F1 track

Just 14 points separate the two rivals in Formula 1, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. On the new course in Qatar, nobody knows who has an advantage. That makes the race extremely exciting. And then the argument rages off the slopes as well.

It’s going to be a hot weekend in Formula 1, that much is already certain. The sun was beating down as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reached the Losail Circuit. This stretch in the desert, which is still completely foreign to the title rivals – and on the one on Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky and in the live ticker) even preliminary decisions can happen. “This is a new course for us, we have never been here,” said Verstappen, who walked the route as soon as he arrived: “I only drove it a little on the simulator, but it’s good to see it in real life to see. “

There are only 14 points between Verstappen in the Red Bull and Hamilton in the Mercedes, there are still three races in the Middle East: after the World Cup premiere in Qatar, the equally controversial run in Saudi Arabia and the final in Abu Dhabi. And there is a lot to be said for looking ahead now, “doing everything possible to maximize performance on the track”.

But the two top racing teams dragged a lot with them into the final, something has built up. In the afternoon, both sides will go to the stewards, the duel from last Sunday in São Paulo will be rolled out again. Verstappen had defended himself hard against Hamilton there, and Mercedes wants to get a penalty for Red Bull with new camera angles.

It’s about every point – and about the principle

It seems unlikely that this will happen, and even if it did, it would probably be a subsequent five-second penalty – Verstappen would then no longer be ranked second, but third in Brazil and lose three points.

The advance by Mercedes shows that every point is at stake, but it is now also a matter of principle. Red Bull had blackened Mercedes in São Paulo because of a supposedly illegal rear wing with the rulers, which also cost the Silver Arrows important points in the sprint on Saturday. “I’m always diplomatic, but diplomacy is over now,” said Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff last weekend. His team celebrated a success there on Sunday against all odds, “I couldn’t be prouder.”

The next challenges are now waiting for both racing teams this weekend. A route they don’t know – and the attacks of the other team. On and next to the asphalt.

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