‘We’re not exactly having dinner together’: Max Verstappen lifts the lid on his ‘tense’ F1 rivalry with Lewis Hamilton just days after calling Briton a ‘stupid idiot’ in the middle of a track battle
- Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are in a fierce battle for the F1 championship
- Verstappen leads the seven-time world champion with just five races to go
- Despite the three major incidents between them, he believes that there is mutual respect.
- Even with a 12-point lead, he refuses to dream of ending Hamilton’s dominance.
Max Verstappen claims that while their Formula One rivalry with Lewis Hamilton has been “tense,” mutual respect still remains between them as their championship battle intensifies.
The two are the most outstanding drivers on the field this period and have been evenly matched throughout the campaign, although there have already been some heated moments between them.
At the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July, Hamilton was penalized for forcing Verstappen off the track in a high-speed incident that landed the Red Bull driver in the hospital, and Hamilton won the race.
Max Verstappen celebrates winning the United States Grand Prix on Sunday
The victory extended the Dutchman’s world championship lead to 12 points
Verstappen endured a strong challenge from Hamilton to achieve victory in Texas
Last month at Monza they again collided with this time Verstappen’s poor attempt to defend his position at Monza which ended with his car landing on Hamilton’s Mercedes, with the 36-year-old protected from serious damage by being hit by a wheel. . halo shield around the cockpit.
For the third time they were involved in another incident in Texas last Friday when Verstappen was kicked off the track in practice by his rival, prompting the Dutchman to call him a “ stupid idiot ” in a radio message to the Red Bull garage. , as well as gesturing with his middle finger towards Hamilton from his car.
But Verstappen has downplayed any animosity between the pair, saying there remains a great deal of respect between them.
‘It’s good. I mean, we are how competitors should be, ” he said in an interview with Gentleman’s journal. We’re not exactly having dinner together, but it’s okay.
Hamilton and Verstappen met for the first time earlier in the season at the British Grand Prix.
They then both ended up retiring again after Verstappen’s car landed on Hamilton’s in Italy.
Verstappen criticized Hamilton as a ‘stupid idiot’ after being thrown off the road at US GP practice.
You have that competitive spirit and we always try to beat each other on the track. But also try to respect others out of the way. So far there have been some tense moments, but overall it has been good. ‘
After holding off Hamilton to win Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, the Dutchman now leads the seven-time world champion by 12 points into the last five races.
Although it is not a comfortable position, it puts him in a good advantage heading into the end of the season, as he seeks to end Hamilton’s dominance in the championship that the Briton has won every year since 2014, except in 2016, when he lost. narrowly until then. teammate Nico Rosberg.
However, Verstappen believes there is still mutual respect between the pair in their title fight.
Hamilton won the championship last year in Turkey and is now aiming for an eighth crown
But Verstappen admits he still doesn’t dream of championship glory despite the final title fight in Abu Dhabi in December.
He added: ‘I know I’m in that fight, but it’s more about trying to maximize every weekend to try to get a bigger advantage. That is what we are really focused on right now.
‘I’m not a big dreamer so I don’t really think about Abu Dhabi [the season finale] too much still. I just go step by step and race by race to try to get as many points as possible, at all times. ‘
Although only 24 years old, Verstappen is now one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, having made his debut in 2015 at just 17 years old.
Although their battles on the track have been fierce, sporting respect has barely remained among F1 championship rivals heading into the final five races of the season.
Admitting some regrets along the way, he claims to have learned from mistakes in his early career, but that it was part of becoming an F1 driver.
He added: ‘I think for my age, at the time, I had a lot of experience. I felt ready. Of course, looking back now, if I had the experience that I have now, I would probably do things a little differently, but that’s normal.
‘What do you expect when you are 17 years old? You have to make mistakes, you have to learn.
“I had only done a year of racing outside of karts, in F3, so it was a natural learning curve.”