Max Verstappen has faced criticism this week in the wake of the penalties he incurred during Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen has been warned he faces damaging his legacy amid criticism of his tactics in his gripping world title fight with Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen was handed two penalties during the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday, the second of which came as a result a collision with Hamilton when he was instructed to hand the lead back over to the seven-time world champion.
Hamilton’s race victory and fastest lap saw him close the gap to Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, and remarkably they will go into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP level on 369.5 points each.
“Such is Max’s car control and cunning, he’s sometimes able to pull off the audacious moves and leave a margin of doubt as to whether it’s hard racing or simply a professional foul outside of the regulations,” Martin Brundle said in his Sky Sports column.
“And it’s those moments, such as the infamous turn four in Brazil, which are generating the confusion, controversies and inconsistencies.
“I’m in awe of Verstappen’s driving skills and racing nous, and have championed him since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2015 when he was in the Toro Rosso.
“His touch and control behind the wheel is something to behold, but it saddens me that he’s resorting to such tactics, he’s better than that.
“And for all his outwardly carefree attitude it will be such a shame if his legacy is to be labelled as an unfair driver.
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“Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had their faults too, and I was on the receiving end from both of them on occasions, but it’s a sizeable dent on their immense reputations, not a positive.”
Meanwhile, a figure not often associated with motorsport has defended Verstappen in the aftermath of the season’s penultimate race.
World heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury has called for Verstappen to be cut some slack.
Fury said: “I’ve just been reading up about the F1 rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and how Max is being made out to be a bit of a bad boy.
“It’s not nice, especially when you are young and ambitious and want to win.
“Give him a bit of a break – he’s only a young lad trying his best.
“Good luck to both men in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“This rivalry reminds me a bit of James Hunt and Niki Lauda racing for the title.
“Who is going to win it boys? Come on the boys!”