Max Verstappen defended over Lewis Hamilton incident – ‘I think that’s way too harsh’

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Former Formula One driver Jolyon Palmer has defended Max Verstappen after a ‘tiny bit of oversteer’ cost the Dutchman a win in Bahrain.

The Red Bull driver, who had been fastest all weekend, was left reeling after overtaking Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the opening race of the season – only to be told by race control to hand the place back due to track limits.

The controversial issue regarding track limits has been much discussed after the race – with some complaining of inconsistency, however, on track it was the Mercedes of Hamilton who now leads the championship heading to Imola.

“Did he fluff it? First of all the issues that Verstappen was driving with particularly seemed to affect him in the first stint when Hamilton was crucially able to stick within two seconds and undercut him,” said Palmer speaking on BBC 5 live’s Chequered flag podcast with Jennie Gow and commentator Jack Nicholls.

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“How much were the issues affecting him?

“He was pretty vocal against it, he said the car was difficult to drive.

“The pace that had for the rest of the race was pretty good. If the car was hard to drive, was that allowing Hamilton to stay so close, and then when he could drive around better or the team fixed the problems later on, was that then a deciding factor in the race really.

“That problem early on allowed Hamilton to jump him by staying so close.”

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Palmer believes the Dutchman felt he would have more opportunities to fight back against Hamilton in the closing stages of the race.

However, when asked if he felt Verstappen fluffed it in the moment, Palmer admitted that felt a bit harsh.

He added: “It’s a big chance. That was the chance. He probably thought he had more chances coming. That’s the crucial thing here.

“The way that he caught Hamilton out front, on fresher tyres, we’ve seen how many times – the writing on the wall, when someone’s on older tyres, the guy on the new tyres comes up, makes it work with the DRS, it happens.

“It’s just a tiny snap of oversteer for Verstappen. It’s the one shot he had, he didn’t make it work. But I don’t know if you can say he fluffed it in that moment, I think that’s way too harsh, in the moment.

“It wasn’t an open goal. You can fluff an open goal, it’s difficult to fluff a half chance.

“I think maybe it was slightly more than that, but he never got another one. Huge moment, and you’ve also got to say Hamilton did amazing.”

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