Lando Norris reveals the advice Lewis Hamilton gave him
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff fully expects a repeat of the infamous Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost crash at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix if nothing separates Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton heading into the final race of the season. The seven-time world champion sits just 12 points behind his title rival ahead of this weekend’s Mexico Grand Prix.
Despite Mercedes’ dominance over the years, it is notoriously a track where Red Bull have matched their rivals.
And this year it’s been closer than ever between the two title protagonists with just five races left in the season.
There have already been plenty of eye-catching moments with tempers flaring on and off the track.
Hamilton and Verstappen have collided on more than one occasion with the pair giving nothing away in the battle for this year’s championship.
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Verstappen has been on the brunt of a 50G crash into a tyre barrier while Hamilton’s dealt with a 750kg race car landing on top of his head.
The rivalry between them this season has sparked comparisons to those of yesteryear, with the battle between Prost and Senna stuff of legends in the sport.
In the 1990 season, the championship was decided in the penultimate race of the race in controversial fashion.
Senna was aware that if he finished ahead of his rival, or if they were to both crash out, he would be crowned champion.
After a debate with F1 officials on which side of the track he should be starting on for pole, the race got underway with Senna darting down the inside of Prost and the pair taking each other out of the race with the Brazilian clinching his second world title.
Senna was widely criticised in the aftermath with Prost calling his rival “disgusting”.
There could be a very similar situation this season between Verstappen and Hamilton given how close the two drivers have been on the track so far.
This weekend’s race in Mexico is quickly followed by four more in Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
And Wolff wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some dirty tactics arise in the final Grand Prix of the season from whoever holds the championship lead.
“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” Wolff told the Daily Mail.
“What happened in Monza? Verstappen took Lewis out because he was about to overtake and he was quicker. And that is totally understandable.
“If you are racing for the championship and you see it fading away because the other guy is overtaking you, what tool have you got other than the one that makes sure he can’t overtake? We’ve seen it with Schumacher and Villeneuve, we saw it with Senna and Prost twice.
“I would never give the instruction to crash into anyone else but if they go to that last race and whoever is in front wins the championship, they will be racing each other, hard.
“And I don’t think you can control it, Hamilton and Verstappen, I don’t think you want to control it because they are the gladiators in their machines.
“That is what makes this sport so interesting, because it is ingrained in our nature that we don’t like confrontation and then one is intrigued to see how that relationship unfolds.
“If they crash are they going to confront each other? What are they going to say? Will they look in each others’ eyes?
“We would not interfere. The relationship is sorted out between the individuals.”
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