Hamilton and Verstappen get heated before the Formula 1 Austrian GP with a war of words in the media after Silverstone. Although they are no longer battling for the F1 drivers’ title against each other, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have not forgotten their memorable battle last season, which included some unforgettable clashes such as the one at Silverstone.
And while Hamilton was pleased with a cleaner battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Verstappen was delighted that his rival was “still learning at 37”. Ouch!
It’s been obvious since the last Formula One season that despite the previous respect between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the two champions will never go on holiday together as mates. And for good reason, they had a memorable battle last season, one of the most memorable in F1 history. The two drivers were tied at the final meeting of the season in Abu Dhabi, but a dramatic last-lap scenario decided the outcome.
But long before that, the season had been marked by controversy. There was the collision at Monza, where Verstappen’s Red Bull ended up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, the battle on the limit at Interlagos and the dangerous driving in Saudi Arabia with alledged brake testing. However, it all started at Silverstone. On the home turf of the seven-time world champion, both drivers made a spectacular start to the GP, but a collision sent Verstappen into the scenery resulting in a hospital trip. Meanwhile Lewis celebrated on the podium.
At the entrance to Copse, Hamilton, on the inside, tried to pass, but the Dutchman pushed back, the accident was unavoidable and forced the Red Bull to retire after a huge shunt into the tyre wall, while the Mercedes won. And of course, both drivers blamed the other.
Back at Silverstone last weekend, a year after their collision, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen did not meet on track, but the British driver was able to put up a magnificent fight against Charles Leclerc. And this time, even with wider cars than last season, the Ferrari and Mercedes passed each other without any problems in Copse.
“It was incredible. It felt like a go-kart race. That’s what happens in go-kart racing: it’s a battle with everyone. And this must be Formula 1, Formula 1 at its best. I was happy because it’s been a long time since we’ve been there,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
Delighted with his duel with Charles Leclerc, the seven-time world champion added another layer to the mix on France’s Canal+ TV channel. And this time, it was hard not to see a reference to his collision with Max Verstappen last season:
“Charles did a great job, he is a very sensible driver. It’s clearly very different from what I experienced last year. In Copse, for example, we passed two (abreast) without any problems. What a battle! It was an incredible weekend.”
Verstappen’s crazy response was swift in the media…. Asked to comment on Lewis Hamilton’s comments, the Dutchman was as abrasive in speech as he was on the track.
“I think it’s great that at 37 years old, at some point, you understand how to get over a line in a corner!
“Lewis is learning so it’s positive for young drivers: when you’re 37, you’re still learning! You can see that clearly in the pictures, of course.
“Charles also gave him less space than I did last year, so that says enough. Also, he got a penalty last year, so he shouldn’t even talk about it and say I was to blame,” he said to Autosport.
Clearly, the 2021 season is not about to be forgotten. But the timing of Lewis Hamilton’s initial comments may also be a targetted dig at the Red Bull driver as Lewis Hamilton is now on Red Bull’s home turf for the Austrian GP this weekend. His comments about Max Verstappen are likely to be a source of heat for the fans of the team led by Christian Horner. And for the Dutchman, he couldn’t help but add further comment saying: “He must live with himself.”
Max Verstappen’s response was clear, as usual, and he added that from now on he would concentrate on his performance finishing with: “I think it’s a bit awkward but, in the end, it has nothing to do with my performance. I have to focus on what we are doing here. I think we’re doing pretty well this year, so we’ll keep working on that rather than looking at what’s going on behind us! 2021 is still on everyone’s mind.”
It takes a special kind of evil genius to design to eliminate the competition and then point fingers at the victim. And it takes a special kind of cold-blooded wickedness to celebrate rumbunctiously after the undeserved win. Hamilton has both – that genius and the wickedness.
If he is disliked, it is for these qualities, not because he is a 7 times WDC.