F1 should let Hamilton/Verstappen duel rip, says Webber

The Australian has called on the category to embrace the rivalry between the two star drivers, and the growing tension between the Mercedes and Red Bull squads off the back of the controversial first-lap clash at Silverstone.

Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty for his role in the clash – which resulted in a 51g impact for Verstappen – but still fought back to win the British Grand Prix.

That prompted some fiery reaction from the Red Bull camp, Hamilton accused of dirty driving by Christian Horner, while Helmut Marko even called for him to be benched for a race.

Speaking during a W Series media call on Tuesday, Webber was asked if Formula 1 should intervene to stop the rivalry escalating.

His answer was a resounding no, the nine-time grand prix winner hoping we see more intense wheel-to-wheel action as the season wears on.

“It’s brilliant. It’s exactly what we want,” he said.

“I think it was one of the best first laps we’ve seen in a long time.

“It’s been coming, they’ve had some brilliant wheel-to-wheel battles – Barcelona, Imola, Bahrain. We all knew this was coming. Bring on more of it.

“The sense of occasion at Silverstone was just extraordinary, it was one of the best grands prix I’ve been to in a long time. The fans, 120,000 there on race day. The two big boys on the front row.

“A brilliant first lap – they just missed each other in Turn 1 on the exit, wheel-to-wheel on the run to Brooklands, and the obviously Lewis had a go into Copse and it didn’t quite work out.”

The British GP triumph for Hamilton and DNF for Verstappen has put the title fight on a knife-edge, the Dutchman’s lead in the standings now just eight points.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Hungarian GP, Webber says Verstappen should have the car advantage, but that Hamilton has proven he can win at the Hungaroring in inferior equipment in the past.

“I think that Lewis is magical at Budapest, he’s absolutely phenomenal at that track,” said Webber. “Mind you Max is handy as well.

“I think the Red Bull will be strong at that track, so Max could have a bit of a Red Bull Ring sort of weekend – pole and then disappear. Lewis might not get a punch on him.

“But let’s see. As I said, Hamilton has won a lot of races at the Hungaroring in sub-par machinery.

“Races he had no right to win, but he did win. Hamilton is going to need to be at his best again. Verstappen is… you know, he’s a gladiator. That’s exactly what we expect of him.

“It’s going to be a good weekend.”

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Webber also tipped more clashes between the two contenders as they do battle for the 2021 crown.

“Every race is important now, and inevitably there will be some more carbon fibre between the pair of them going into the air,” he added.

“But happy days, that’s what we watch the sport for. Two of the best duking it out.”

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