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Brazilian Grand Prix, Constructors championship, leaderboard, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, feud, Toto Wolff, Christian Horner, engine, rear wing

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Just three rounds are left in the race for the Formula 1 title and two challengers remain.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – the same two that have been caught up in a simmering feud that has been escalating all season.

A rivalry that has already reached boiling point and yet is far from settling down as the crescendo climax awaits at Abu Dhabi in December.

Hamilton’s dream of a record-breaking eighth world championship remains very much a possibility after his incredible resurgence in Brazil.

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Hamilton clinches dramatic win in Brazil | 03:05

It leaves him just 14 points behind Red Bull’s Verstappen and with the stakes only set to get higher, the competition will subsequently become even fiercer.

Both team principals have refused to interfere too much in the drama, instead describing the conflict back in September as the coming together of two equally-competitive combatants.

“Max is a no-quarter kind of guy; Lewis has demonstrated that he doesn’t want to give anything either and when you get two racers of that mentality, you get incidents,” Red Bull’s Christian Horner said.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff was equally diplomatic at the time adding: “The point is that these two are racing for a drivers’ championship and you can’t expect them to have velvet gloves on”.

That all changed on Monday morning though, with even Wolff taking his velvet gloves off.

“I think we’ve just had many, many punches in the face this weekend,” he said.

“Decisions that could have swung either side against us or for us. It’s something that I’m just angry about and I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes.

“I’ve always been very diplomatic in how I discuss things, but diplomacy has ended today.”

What exactly sparked the change in mood from Wolff?

Well, there were a host of incidents that all came to a head of Monday as the ongoing feud between Mercedes and Red Bull spilled over.

It started when Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying classification after the FIA deemed his rear wing not to be legal, with the Drag Reduction System opening greater than the maximum 85 millimetres allowed.

RACE IS ON: Title twist could see Hamilton and Verstappen go to historic tie-breaker

Is Max too close for comfort? | 00:27

Wolff could hardly believe it, telling reporters he thought Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows “was joking” when the news came through on WhatsApp.

Earlier in the day Verstappen had walked over to Hamilton’s car and briefly touched the rear wing, copping a hefty fine for his actions.

It was Verstappen’s defensive driving on the track though on Monday morning that really sent Wolff over the edge, particularly given the punishment handed down to Hamilton a few days earlier.

It was turn three on lap 48 and Hamilton had long been closing in on Verstappen, who held a slender lead.

Like Wolff had said back in September, these were two drivers competing for a championship and willing to do whatever it takes in the pursuit of that goal.

What Verstappen did next though crossed a line according to the Mercedes boss.

It was another flashpoint in the pair’s ongoing duel, with Verstappen seeming to deliberately push his championship rival off the track to keep hold of his lead.

F1 race director Michael Masi has since hinted Verstappen could face a retrospective penalty for the incident once all footage is reviewed but at the time no punishment was laid down.

Given Hamilton’s previous disqualification, Wolff was left livid by the decision.

Verstappen and Hamilton flare once again | 00:31

“That was just over the line – should have been a five-second penalty at least – and probably Max knew that,” he said.

“Just brushing it under the carpet is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, it’s laughable.”

Wolff though was in no laughing mood when it also emerged that Red Bull made wing changes under parc ferme conditions on the same weekend Mercedes was denied that chance.

“No I’m not [happy], it is being judged two different ways here in the sport at this time,” he said of that development.

Horner later clarified from Red Bull’s standpoint that the two requests were “completing different”, telling Sky Sports Mercedes had failed a legality test on their repair.

It changed little for Wolff though, only intensifying the siege mentality which saw him declare: “Lewis – brilliant job. Damage limitation. F*** them all” on the team radio after the sprint race.

“I don’t want to claim anything on the stewards… I think they have a difficult life anyway and they are only there to lose,” Wolff later added.

“But in a certain way when you’re taking punches all weekend and you have such a situation on top of everything, you’re just losing faith.”

When Hamilton and Verstappen crashed back at the British Grand Prix and Horner launched a scathing attack at the Brit’s driving, it seemed tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull had reached boiling point.

Bottas takes pole in Brazil | 01:11

Instead, four months later, the drama is still bubbling away and with the championship yet to be decided it is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Particularly when you consider the added mystery of Mercedes’ engine problems.

Rules allow teams to make changes to the engine provided it improves reliability as opposed to the performance advantage.

Mercedes had already previously hinted at the need for additional power unit parts at the end of the season and on the weekend, they took the gamble.

With Hamilton already trailing Verstappen in the race to the title, a grid penalty was the last setback Mercedes needed but the sudden jump in pace was needed.

It ended up giving the Brit a significant boost to his straight-line speed and helped Hamilton secure a remarkable victory.

It also, along with the rear wing of Hamilton’s car, left Verstappen suspicious and Red Bull searching for answers.

A late protest could provide them but not just yet.

“We need to look at where that speed comes from,” Horner said.

“It’s not normal and we need to look at it, but it’s too early to protest.”

Just another ongoing drama as Hamilton eyes history with the entire F1 world watching.

Red Bull in particular it seems will be keeping a close eye on it all.

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Daniel Ricciardo ‘I’m the best’, Max Verstappen ‘second best’, championship battle with Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull

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Aussie F1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on his rivalry and friendship with championship contender Max Verstappen in the most Daniel Ricciardo-way possible.

The 32-year-old has been around the F1 for a long time now and continues to be one of the biggest personalities on the grid.

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But while Ricciardo has been a championship contender, finishing third in both 2014 and 2016 while driving for Red Bull, he has never quite gotten over the hump to truly push to be world champion.

And since leaving Red Bull at the end of the 2019 season, Ricciardo has been trapped in the midfield with Renault and now McLaren.

In his first season with McLaren, Ricciardo has at times struggled to handle his new car, although he did claim the eighth win of his F1 career at Monza.

Ricciardo’s exit from Red Bull has often been linked to the rise of Max Verstappen as the team appeared to prioritise the young Dutchman in a bid to make him the youngest F1 champion in history — an honour he now can’t achieve as he is 24 — as Ricciardo suffered eight retirement in his final season at the team.

Since separating at the end of 2018, Ricciardo and Verstappen have become great friends, challenging Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz in the bromance stakes.

Verstappen and Ricciardo speak after spring qualifying at Monza. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Verstappen and Ricciardo speak after spring qualifying at Monza. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

But despite not landing the same results Verstappen and sitting 246.5 points behind the Dutchman on the driver standings, Ricciardo is of no doubt who the better driver is, dropped a backhanded compliment for his former teammate.

“Until the day I stop … I’ll always believe I’m the best. I think the day I stop will be the day that I no longer believe I’m the best driver,” Ricciardo joked in an interview with RacingNews365.

“Is Max the second best? Probably! Probably!”

More seriously, Ricciardo believes Verstappen will one day claim the world championship, whether this season or in the future.

Verstappen is currently just eight points ahead of a resurgent Lewis Hamilton in the closest battle for the championship in years.

Ahead of the penultimate Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend, a Hamilton first and fastest lap ahead of a second placed Verstappen would see the pair go into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on equal points.

“If it’s not this year, I think it’s inevitable that he wins a world title,” Ricciardo said. “Not to say that it’s an easy thing to achieve, but I think he has all the traits to do it.

“Also his racecraft is good, I like that he goes for gaps. I see a lot of similarities in the way he goes about racing, so that I can certainly respect.”

They didn’t get along too badly when they were both at Red Bull. Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo also praised Verstappen’s “lack of fear” and said it was much better to get along now they’re on opposing teams.

“As a person, I really like Max. For sure, it’s been probably easier to get on with each other post-teammates, because we don’t have that head-to-head, as you’d call it,” Ricciardo said.

“But I think also he’s matured, you know, so I like the way he goes about his business as well. We are quite different, but I think he’s very true to his word, (there’s) not much bulls*** that goes on. I definitely like him and respect him for that.

“As a driver, look, I remember his very first practice session in Barcelona, when he got into Red Bull, and he was on it straight away. I remember seeing the data and I was like, ‘OK, he’s not messing around’.

“I think he has that speed, that raw speed, that lack of fear. Now he’s got that maturity to really make him a top, top, top tier (driver).”

And despite all the talk of Verstappen getting favourable treatment when the pair teamed up at Red Bull, Ricciardo denied there was a schism in the team.

He pointed to on-track incidents, including the infamous 2018 Baku crash, as signs of how hard they fought it out on the track. But he added that it was “never hostile” in debriefs and “there weren’t any kind of secrets”.

He also said it was equal equipment, although conceding “I didn’t feel was equal in some situations – Baku being the biggest one”.

Ricciardo was blamed for the crash that saw both men taken out of the race.

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Date, time, how to watch, best moments, Jamie Whincup, Chaz Mostert, Supercars news, preview

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For the first time ever, the Bathurst 1000 will be held in December and even still, that is just one added mystery to what shapes as an unpredictable weekend.

Supercars icon Neil Crompton put it best when listing the kind of surprises the mountain can throw up.

“161 laps of racing, kangaroos, weather, snow, hail, wind, rain, one-tenth of a second separating first and second,” he said on Fox Motorsport’s ‘Bathurst 1000 Preview Show’.

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Two brother combos to drive at Bathurst | 03:31

“It’s fantastic.”

It is not just this year though and it what makes the ‘Great Race’ must-watch television.

“You’ve only got to go back to last year,” Crompton added.

“The margin [between] first to second [was] 0.8 of a second. If you look at the history of event in the last 10-15 years, the number of times it is determined by less than a second is genuinely freaky.”

Adding an extra layer of complexity to this year’s instalment is the mystery of just what a December start will mean.

“The conditions are going to be a big talking point for this year,” Crompton said.

Bathurst’s newest rookie: Zak Best | 01:37

“In fact, when you look at the history of the race we see all that spring weather affecting the outcome. It throws up a big question as to what happens this year because we’ve never ran the race this late before.

“Will it be hot? Will we still have mixed conditions? What impact will it have on impact on fitness? Bearing in mind the cars have been worked and fatigued extremely hard at Sydney Motorsport Park. Will that throw up a reliability question?”

A host of questions that likely will not be answered until the day itself.

But even then, the day’s drama can appear to be over before another twist presents itself in the dying stages.

You only have to look at the history of the Bathurst 1000 to understand just how unpredictable it can be.

With that in mind, foxsports.com.au has looked back at some of the most dramatic and wild moments from previous editions of the ‘Great Race’.

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know ahead of the 2021 Bathurst 1000

SVG fully focused on Bathurst win | 00:55

2019 – MCLAUGHLIN’S WIN ‘TAINTED’ BY CHEATING STORM

Scott McLaughlin’s triumph at the 2019 Bathurst 1000 dominated news cycles long after the race was complete but it was not his brilliant driving that had everyone talking.

Rather, McLauglin and co-driver Alex Premat’s win was overshadowed by a team orders controversy that even last year again reared its ugly head.

Speaking to News Corp in the lead-up to last year’s race, Erebus Motorsport boss Barry Ryan said McLaughlin’s victory still remains “tainted” by the drama.

That drama came after McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard was ordered to slow down while in second place under the safety car in the latter stages of the race.

It helped McLaughlin maintain a comfortable lead ahead of the rest of the field but sparked a later investigation, which saw the DJR team found guilty of an engine breach.

The team was stripped of 300 championship points and fined a total of $280,000 while McLaughlin had qualifying and top-10 shootout victories taken off him.

The race victory though remained his despite claims at the time from Ryan that DJR Team had “blatantly cheated”

Supercars legend Larry Perkins described Coulthard’s actions as “disgraceful”, although Shane van Gisbergen was more empathetic to the situation.

He called Coulthard a “sacrificial lamb” in the situation, adding it was “pretty obvious what happened”.

Scott McLaughlin took out the win in 2019 in controversial circumstances. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Scott McLaughlin took out the win in 2019 in controversial circumstances. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

2018 – LOWNDES’ FAIRYTALE FAREWELL AMID REYNOLDS’ HEARTBREAK

The unpredictable nature of Bathurst can be both a blessing and a curse.

For Craig Lowndes, 2018’s ‘Great Race’ was the fairytale sendoff he had hoped for in his final Bathurst 1000 as a full-time driver.

For defending champion David Reynolds, it was agony and heartbreak that left the former king of the mountain shattered.

Reynolds looked certain to take out the crown again only for a devastating cramp in his leg to spark a brutal downfall that saw co-driver Luke Youlden finish 13th after taking over.

The then 33-year-old was forced to depart the race with 27 laps remaining, with dehydration from the searing heat proving his undoing as the cramp set in and only got worse.

“I’ve got the biggest cramp in my leg in my life,” Reynolds said over the radio as Lowndes took over.

David Reynolds had a heartbreaking end to the race. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

It left the Erebus garage with two choices – they could either give Reynolds electrolytes in the hope it would give him a much-needed energy boost or sub him out for Youlden.

They opted for the former but Reynolds could not overcome the cramps even in the pits.

Reynolds had been setting the pace for much of the race but his body quickly started to give up on, with a lack of sleep also taking its toll.

The 2017 winner described how his “mind started to go” as the race dragged on.

“I’ve had a very big lead-up, we’ve had terrible sleep, and I just haven’t looked after myself that well,” Reynolds said at the time.

“Yesterday I was probably running on 70 per cent, this morning I was probably 50 per cent, [during] the race I was pretty much at zero.”

Lowndes reflects on ‘fight of my life’ | 01:07

2016 – WHINCUP’S ‘GUT-WRENCHING’ PENALTY

To this day, it is the one that got away.

The controversy still bothers Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, who told News Corp earlier this week that Jamie Whincup had his crown “stolen off him”.

Dane, of course, is referring to the 2016 edition of the ‘Great Race’ which looked like being one of the most straightforward results in years.

What transpired was anything but, with Whincup at the centre of the drama after crossing the line first after dominating the race.

Whincup though had earned himself a 15-second time penalty for an incident with Scott McLaughlin which then became a three-way clash with Garth Tander.

Whincup had been battling with McLaughlin for the effective lead when the pair touched at The Chase.

The Triple Eight driver had been trying to pass on Lap 150 but caused McLaughlin to leave the road, with Whincup then slowing in a bid to redress the accident.

That only led to more carnage with Tander trying to pass McLaughlin but instead the duo collided.

Jamie Whincup looked destined for victory. Picture: Mark HorsburghSource: Supplied

One year later and with the dust far from settled, McLaughlin called the accident the “most gut-wrenching moment of my life” in an interview with supercars.com.

The penalty saw Whincup relegated to 11th place as Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were instead crowned winners.

The controversy was far from finished, with Triple Eight’s appeal against the time penalty dismissed by the Supercars National Court of Appeal nine days later.

Whincup was penalised for “careless driving” in the initial incident with McLaughlin.

“It did hurt, it’s the biggest race of the year and we did everything we absolutely could to finish on top,” Whincup told supercars.com, reflecting on the drama in 2017.

“There’s certainly nothing I would’ve done differently and I won’t do in the future.

“The day a racing driver doesn’t take an opportunity is the day they should probably hang the helmet up and give their position to someone that will take the opportunity.

“That move [on McLaughlin] was on, every day of the week. It doesn’t matter if it was the biggest race of the year or the smallest race, it doesn’t really matter.”

What it did do was prove the inherently unpredictable nature of Bathurst, a heartbreaking reminder for Whincup.

Jamie Whincup arrives at the County Court with Larry Perkins to contest his Bathurst Suspension. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource: News Corp Australia

2014 – MOSTERT’S MIRACLE AND A KANGAROO SIGHTING

If you want proof of just how wide-open the Bathurst field can be, look no further than Chaz Mostert’s triumph in 2014.

Mostert’s miracle race saw him start from last place in the grid and finish in first, four seconds in front of James Moffat.

It was just Mostert’s second start in the classic race and he did not have the lead until the final lap, when he overtook Whincup.

The Holden star himself had quite the drive, making his way to the front from 23rd on the grid but could not get over the line in the end.

The same could not be said for Mostert, who made history in his maiden triumph at Bathurst – no driver had previously won the event from further back than 19th.

“From 26th to first, it’s unbelievable. Everything went our way,” Mostert said after the race.

It was a drama-filled race that year with a total of eight retirements and a record-equalling 10 safety car interventions.

One of the safety cars was triggered after Luke Youlden’s Holden Commodore clipped a kangaroo while travelling along Mountain Straight.

A one-hour stoppage was even needed to repair a damaged part of the track surface.

Kangaroos have made plenty of escapes over the years, others have not been as lucky. Picture: Channel 7Source: News Limited

2005– BATTLE FOR BATHURST SPILLS OVER

This was a rivalry so heated that it almost came to blows back in 2005.

Marcos Ambrose and Greg Murphy were caught in a tense confrontation halfway up Mount Panorama after their cars came together on lap 144.

Ambrose had attempted to pass the Kiwi on one of the tightest sections of the track but the two collided.

With both drivers trying to close in on the leaders and an existing rivalry already there, tempers flared as the clash threatened to turn physical.

Fortunately both walked away before that could happen, although Murphy was not afraid to launch a few verbal blows later, calling out his rival for having an “ego problem”.

Greg Murphy and Marcos Ambrose clashed. Pic Channel Ten Network. Motor Racing / AccidentSource: News Corp Australia

“We were racing for it and I expected he would do a proper job and give me racing room to go around the corner together,” he said at the time.

“He decided that I should have to give way and that is what happened. He pegged me into the wall and I catapulted him around. Bloody stupid if you ask me.

“I’m pretty angry. The whole thing is just typical and he thinks it is never his fault.

“He has got an ego problem, we all know about it and it’s reared its ugly head again today.”

Ambrose was not as heated in his response, refusing to engage in a war of words, but added: “As usual, nothing is Greg’s fault”.

Video still of V8 Supercars getting caught up behind the spectacular Ambrose – Murphy crash at Mt (Mount) Panorama during the Bathurst 1000. CREDIT: NETWORK TEN (10).Source: News Corp Australia

2003 – MURPHY’S ALL-TIME ‘LAP OF THE GODS’

18 years on, Greg Murphy’s incredible Bathurst Lap remains one of the most memorable moments in motorsports history.

The Mount Panorama course is challenging for both man and machine, pushing drivers to the limit and, in the case of Murphy, to immortal status.

Murphy is considered the Mountain Messiah, a revered figure for his Bathurst heroics which saw the Kiwi put up a record qualifying time of 2.06.8794s.

He shaved a whole second off the previous best time and in those 126 seconds time stood still, right until Murphy came down the finishing straight to a standing ovation.

“I can’t believe the time, I’m just shaking,” Murphy said at the time.

“The car was good and I knew I had to push hard to beat Mark (Skaife) and JB, especially when I heard the roar at the end of pitlane when he had done his lap.”

Almost two decades later, Murphy’s remarkable lap still maintains its legendary status and fascinates fans in a testament to its longstanding importance.

Kmart Holden Commodore driver Greg Murphy celebrates. Pic Cameron Tandy. Motor Racing P/Source: News Corp Australia

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet wants Australian Formula One Grand Prix moved from Melbourne to Sydney, Albert Park

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has backed calls for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix to be moved to Sydney, taking a cheeky swipe at Melbourne in the process.

Reports emerged in October the NSW government was considering a bold bid to poach the F1 race from Melbourne amid a hefty cash splash on attracting major events.

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The pitch would largely focus on a Monaco-style street race along the Sydney Harbour to capitalise on the city’s celebrated beauty, although racing over the Harbour Bridge has been ruled out due to safety concerns.

Melbourne’s Grand Prix has become a key fixture on the racing calendar since it was first held there in 1996, but organisers were forced to cancel both the 2020 and 2021 instalments due to Covid-19.

And now Perrottet has confirmed Sydney is eager to swoop in and claim the popular event when the contract with Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit expires in 2025.

“We’ve got the greatest cities in not just the country, but the world,” Perrottet said, referring to NSW.

“And seriously, why would the Formula One want to stay in Melbourne when you can come here?

“So we think we’re going to have a fighting chance to bring that event here, but it’s not just the Formula One, it’s major events right across the country and across the world that we’re going after.”

Aussie Mark Webber drove on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of a promotion in 2005.Source: News Limited
The Australian Grand Prix has never been held in Sydney. Photo: Phil HillyardSource: News Corp Australia

The Premier’s comments come after the state government unveiled its $200m event fund in June, which it said at the time would put “NSW in pole position to secure major events”.

Perrottet echoed the sentiments of Venues NSW chairman Tony Shepherd, who wants Sydney to steal the F1 Grand Prix from Melbourne and see race cars flying along the Cahill Expressway.

“The people of NSW love motor racing as much as anybody and we have a world class city to stage it,” Shepherd told the Daily Telegraph.

“We would need to choose the route carefully to avoid disrupting people but it would be a great way to sell our city to the world.”

Shepherd also wants Sydney to hold one major event per month in a bid to showcase the city to the world and attract international visitors.

“Our goal at Venues NSW is to have a major event in the state every month,” he said.

“The idea is to fill up the year so that every month people have something to look forward to.

“It would be a great ambition to hold a major event every month that would appeal to local and international visitors.

Sydney faces a tough ask to poach the F1 from Melbourne. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“With the venues we have now, particularly with an opening and closing roof on Stadium Australia, we could have acts such as Adele coming over to perform in the winter months when we are quiet.”

The Grand Prix costs Melbourne $30 million to stage each year. Sydney and NSW faces an uphill battle to pinch the F1 from Melbourne after Australian F1 Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott vowed to fight off any bid from NSW for the race.

“We have got a commitment to stage the race with F1 and the Victorian government on April 10 next year,” he said in October.

“We expect that this is going to occur. We are very close with F1 and have a relationship that goes back decades. We have a relationship that will see us host the event here until 2025, and we want to look to the future as well.

“We are happening next year and it will continue to happen. Our remit is to look beyond 2025.”

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