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Christian Horner

Horner defends Verstappen: He was giving the place to Hamilton

Christian Horner believes it was very clear that Max Verstappen was ceding position to Lewis Hamilton when the pair collided in the Saudi Arabian GP.

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To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has leapt to the defence of Max Verstappen following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, saying it was obvious that the Dutch driver was lifting off to let Lewis Hamilton by when the pair collided.

With Verstappen having retained the lead on Lap 36 of 50 after sliding off at Turn 1 while battling Hamilton, he was instructed to cede position.

Verstappen did so down the back straight into the final corner, with Hamilton apparently wrong-footed and hitting the rear of the Red Bull.

"We feel hard done by"

Speaking afterwards, Horner expressed frustration over Verstappen's time penalty for his initial defence against Hamilton, and then insisted that his driver had been trying to give up the lead.

"I think we feel hard done by with a five-second penalty and then the incident where Lewis has driven up the back of Max. They'll go and explain in front of the stewards, but Max was trying to give the place up," he told Sky Sports.

"We informed Race Control that we were going to give the place up. Max lifted off, and I think Lewis actually lifted off. I don't know whether he's messing around for the DRS line there, but it was clear that we were giving the place up.

"Michael [Masi, FIA Race Director] was adamant that, 'You have a choice or it is going to the stewards', at which point, you know it's gonna be a penalty. So we said, 'OK, we'll give the place up', and we informed Race Control."

"Verstappen's car picked up damage"

Horner explained that he felt Hamilton hadn't wanted to pass Verstappen into the final corner due to the positioning of the DRS detection point.

"It's weird because Lewis was slowing down behind him. It sounds like he's lifted off, so it's like he didn't want to pass him there because of the DRS," Horner continued.

"We were trying to give the place up and Lewis then drives up the back of Max's car."

With Verstappen's pace dropping off after the incident, Horner added that there had been rear damage after a "big old whack to the diffuser".

"Obviously, we've picked up quite a bit of damage with that," he explained. "So it's very, very frustrating - very annoying."

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