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Formula 1

Marko explains why Verstappen attacked Hamilton so early on final lap

Red Bull's Helmut Marko has shed some light on why Max Verstappen chose to attack Lewis Hamilton at Turn 5 for the lead on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen Abu Dhabi
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool/Getty Images

Helmut Marko believes that Max Verstappen attacked Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at a somewhat inopportune moment when the Dutchman pulled off a move at Turn 5.

The timing of the pass meant that Hamilton was able to slipstream Verstappen the whole way down the two back straights of the Yas Marina Circuit, pressuring the Red Bull until the new Turn 9.

Speaking to Formel1.de, Marko revealed that Verstappen chose to attack due to the onset of his leg cramp and the lack of certainty as to whether he'd be able to pass down the straight.

"Max suffered from a cramp in his lower leg," Marko said.

"He no longer had full control of his foot and did not know how that situation would develop. That is why he attacked immediately."

"Normally you wouldn't do that there, because then you give Hamilton the chance to counter using his DRS," continued Marko, erroneously, as DRS is not active for two laps following a Safety Car period.

But Marko explained that Verstappen's thinking had been to utilise the superior traction of his fresher tyres out of Turn 5.

"In Turn 5, you need a lot of grip when accelerating out," Marko said, "something we could fall back on with the Soft tyres."

"I wanted to be in control"

Verstappen spoke about the timing of the pass as part of an in-depth interview he carried out accompanied by his father Jos for personal sponsor CarNext.

With Verstappen senior believing that his son would line Hamilton up on the straight, interviewer David Coulthard admitted that he learned where his own deficiencies were as a driver, as he thought Verstappen had made an error of judgment going for the pass into Turn 5.

But the younger Verstappen smiled, and said that he wanted to control his own destiny down the straights, acknowledging that Red Bull's decision to run with a lower downforce rear wing had played a role in his decision-making.

He commented: "I knew I had better top speed. I was like, 'As soon as I'm ahead, then I can control the defence'.

"When you're behind, you [the driver ahead] can always close the door, and then you're not fully in control. It's like, 'I need to send it there and then I am in control'."

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