Hamilton and Verstappen enjoyed a fierce rivalry in their fight for the F1 championship last year, going wheel-to-wheel in several races that included a handful of collisions.
The first major incident between the two drivers came during last year’s British Grand Prix, where they collided as they battled for the lead at Copse on the opening lap of the race. The high-speed collision resulted in a 51G impact for Verstappen into the barrier, while Hamilton won the race despite being penalized for the incident.
The duo also collided at Monza, as well as tussles in Brazil and Saudi Arabia before their showdown in Abu Dhabi where Verstappen clinched the title on the final lap of the race.
After last week’s race at Silverstone where he had a side-by-side battle against Leclerc at Copse, Hamilton called the Ferrari driver “very sensible” in an interview on Sky F1, adding that it was “clearly very different what we experienced the last time”. year”.
Speaking to Dutch media on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen was asked about Hamilton’s comments and whether he thought Leclerc was a more sensible driver than him.
“I think it’s pretty good that at 37 you can still learn how to peak,” Verstappen replied.
“He’s learning, so it’s positive. It’s also good for young drivers to know that you’re still learning at 37.
Pressed on what he was thinking when he heard Hamilton’s comments, Verstappen reiterated his point that it was “good that he’s found the top now”.
Max Verstappen’s car, Red Bull Racing RB16B, is returned to the garage on a truck under a tarpaulin
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport pictures
“You can clearly see in the pictures what was different compared to last year,” Verstappen said.
“I think Charles gave him less space than me last year, so that says it all. And in the end, [Lewis] was the one who got penalized last year, so there’s no point talking about that either.
As Verstappen chases his second consecutive F1 title, the Dutchman is 34 points clear on the field with six wins to his name. By comparison, Hamilton has yet to finish a race higher than third this year amid Mercedes’ struggles under new regulations.
When asked if he thought Hamilton’s comments were part of the game, Verstappen replied that he thought they were “a bit blunt”, but would have “no effect on my performance”.
“I just have to focus on what we’re doing here,” Verstappen said. “I think we’re doing pretty well this year. That’s what I focus on. »
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