Van Kalmthout: ‘Driving someone off the track is plan Z for Verstappen’

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Rinus van Kalmthout expects Max Verstappen is definitely not thinking about a deliberate crash with Lewis Hamilton. The drivers will enter the final race of the year on an equal footing, and if the Dutchman and his British title rival both fail to finish the race, Verstappen will become champion. Yet this is not what Verstappen is letting his world championship depend on, says the IndyCar driver.

“Max wants to win at all costs, but I think he just wants a fair title fight. He has also said before that a title will not change his life very much,” VeeKay opens in conversation with NOS. ‘Driving someone off the track is plan Z’, he adds. Consciously driving Hamilton off the circuit to secure his title, nobody wants that, and neither does the Red Bull Racing driver himself.

Van Kalmthout does not agree with the increasing criticism that the Limburger has to deal with. It is suggested in the international media that he is driving too aggressively. “He races hard and in the end that has brought him to where he is now,” says Van Kalmthout. “Otherwise he wouldn’t have been level with Hamilton now. Verstappen has to rely on his driving style and his aggressiveness in the race.’

‘That often brings him very good results. You want to win a championship and then you get as close as possible to the edge of the rules’, the talented Dutch racing driver knows. It is therefore not entirely incomprehensible that a clash has already occurred in Saudi Arabia between the two title competitors. Van Kalmthout leaves open the question of who was right and who was guilty.

Ideal scenario Red Bull

Verstappen can still win the world title, but something has to be done before that. On sheer speed, it doesn’t seem like the Red Bull is fast enough to keep the Mercedes from winning. According to Van Kalmthout, a good qualification is of great importance. His ideal scenario looks like this: “Hamilton drives a lesser qualifying and Sergio Pérez qualifies in second place, behind Max.”

“Then Perez Hamilton can stop, which will help Max a lot. But I think Abu Dhabi is also a good track for Mercedes. Especially now that the corners have changed’, concludes Van Kalmthout, who therefore seems to estimate Hamilton’s chances higher than Verstappen’s. We have seen many bizarre races in 2021 and while Hamilton could pull away from the 24-year-old after the start, victory is never certain until the checkered flag is waved.

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