Lewis Hamilton says he is ready for “hard racing” in F1 in the wake of moves to allow drivers to battle without the fear of automatic penalties.
The reintroduction of the black-and-white flag in F1 – as used to warn Charles Leclerc in his gripping duel with Hamilton a Monza – is being used as an effective ‘yellow card’ in incidents that do not necessarily warrant an immediate in-race sanction.
- F1’s new ‘yellow card’ explained
- Will it be Lewis vs Max again in Singapore?
Although Hamilton said he did not want to look back on what happened at Monza, the Mercedes driver made clear ahead of this weekend’s Singapore GP: “I’m down for hard racing.”
1:52 Lewis Hamilton rates Mercedes' Singapore GP chances and insists the title battle is no forgone conclusion.
The world champion’s view was shared by his fellow drivers.
“If they keep it consistent then I’m very happy about it, because it gives you a bit more hard racing, which I think we have been lacking before in Formula 1,” said Max Verstappen, one of the grid’s most combative drivers.
“I don’t mind to have a few touches on the way throughout a grand prix. Even if it’s not touches, you should be able to defend yourself.”
Leclerc, who went on to win in Italy, has also welcomed the more flexible approach.
“It’s hard racing and I was completely aware of what I was doing in the car,” said the Ferrari driver.
2:12 Simon Lazenby and Martin Brundle look ahead to this weekend's Singapore GP on the Marina Bay street circuit.
“Overall I wanted to race hard, which I did, and I changed my approach after Austria. From then on it’s been pretty straightforward from the stewards that we could race a bit harder.
“I’m happy to continue.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris added: “If a bit of contact comes every now and then I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
“The chance of us just racing, having fun, that’s part of Formula 1.”
What is the black-and-white flag?
All is explained by FIA race director Michael Masi in this SkyPad exclusive…
5:44 Anthony Davidson is joined by the FIA race director, Michael Masi, after an exciting race day at Monza.
Hamilton on title and Singapore GP challenge
The Singapore GP represents the first of an intense seven-race title-run in, and Hamilton arrives for F1’s iconic night race with a commanding 63-point lead in the championship as he closes in on a sixth crown.
But Hamilton told Sky F1: “It’s definitely not a foregone conclusion.
“Leclerc would have had four wins by now if he hadn’t had the failure in Bahrain, etc. So there’s still a long way to go and still a lot of points of available.
“I was sitting with my engineers the other day and saying that people don’t realise just how hard this season has been even though it’s been successful. We’re still having to work just as hard as before, and if anything it’s getting harder and getting even closer.”
1:31 Lewis Hamilton says he would like to see Robert Kubica competing in the sport next season, after the Williams driver announced he was leaving the team.
Hamilton expects Red Bull to be Mercedes’ closest rivals this weekend.
“This is one of the toughest races, if not the toughest race, of the year – physically and mentally,” he said.
“We come here each year and it shifts between the Ferraris the Red Bulls and us. The Red Bulls particularly have been quick over the years so we anticipate that they’re going to be strong, and I have no idea whether Ferrari will be quick as the last two races.