Hill wary of past final race controversies, Latest Others News - The New Paper

Hill wary of past final race controversies

Ecclestone suggests Hamilton and his team have been 'bullying' Verstappen

Max Verstappen need not score another point to become Formula One champion if Lewis Hamilton also draws a blank in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and the risk of a thrilling season ending in collision and controversy is real.

The two rivals are now level on points after last Sunday's chaotic race in Saudi Arabia but Red Bull's Verstappen is ahead of Mercedes' seven-time world champion 9-8 on race wins.

Britain's 1996 world champion Damon Hill is wary of history repeating itself and suggested the sport's governing body should send a clear warning.

"There is a precedent that was set in the championship in 1997 where (Michael) Schumacher's points were taken away from him," he told Sky Sports.

"So if we do have a (collision) situation, I think the FIA should make the teams and drivers know in advance what they are likely to do. Will they take points away? What's the penalty?"

Ferrari's seven-time world champion Schumacher and Williams' Jacques Villeneuve went into the final race of 1997 at Jerez in Spain with the German leading the Canadian by a single point.

The pair collided while battling for the lead, with Schumacher forced to retire and later stripped of all his points for the season for what was seen to be an attempt to take out his title rival. Villeneuve finished third and was crowned champion.

In 1994, Hill and Schumacher battled for the crown at the final race in Adelaide, with the Briton also a point behind the German.

Schumacher hit the wall and then collided with Hill as the Williams tried to overtake, with both drivers retiring and the German taking his first title. Stewards declared it a racing incident.

Hill did not suggest Verstappen would resort to dirty tricks but saw similarities with Schumacher in his aggressive and take-no-prisoners driving style. "There are some people who drive with absolutely no compromises whatsoever. And I think Max is one of those people," he said.

"He's very skilful and he's brilliant and it's exciting to watch. I think Lewis, who has to deal with that, is now very cautious - he's not intimidated but he's very wary of Max and probably rightly so."

The two rivals have collided several times already his season, including at the last race in Jeddah, when the 36-year-old Briton accused the Dutchman, 24, of "brake-testing".

However, ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone accused Hamilton and his team of not "playing fair". He said: "Max is a kid compared to Lewis and the worst thing is Lewis has a massive publicity campaign working for him.

"They have been pushing down all the time on Max and then the race directors have been looking in because Toto (Wolff) goes to the race director.

"Max has more than a race to confront as he has them too on his back because they are bullying him and not playing fair.

"It is psychological game-playing." - REUTERS, AFP