Hamilton and Vettel admit they race Verstappen differently
Max Verstappen is renowned for his bold and brave approach to racing, so it might not be a surprise to hear his Formula 1 world champion rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel adapt their approach when racing him…
Verstappen was once again in the thick of it in Mexico, making light contact with Hamilton as they went side by side through Turn 1, forcing both drivers onto the grass. The Red Bull driver later lunged down the inside of Valtteri Bottas in the stadium section, but picked up a puncture after contact with the Finn's car.
No action was taken in either of the incidents, but after the race, Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas, who made up the podium in Mexico City, were asked whether they treat Verstappen different to other drivers when going wheel to wheel and if he is the most aggressive driver on the grid.
“I think every driver is slightly different,” said Hamilton. “Some are smarter; some are like very smart, aggressive and some are silly with it. And so, through those experiences of racing with people, you give some more space and others you don’t have to. They’re quite respectful.
“But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do. But as I said, in my experience, I didn’t have a lot of space to give him extra space.
“But I don’t think it was intentional or anything like that. It was just… he’s a magnet for those kind of things but yeah, nonetheless, I managed to keep the car together and in a straight line, fortunately.”
When Vettel was asked for his view, he replied: “Yes and yes.” When asked to elaborate, Vettel replied: “No, just copy-paste [what Hamilton said]. It’s true.”
Bottas added: “For me, just out of nowhere he appeared on the inside into Turn 13 and, you know, I couldn't disappear from there. He just dived in and we touched. He got a puncture from that, so… yeah, I couldn’t really avoid him, so I think he earned his own puncture, definitely.
“I don’t know, every driver is obviously different. Some are more aggressive, some are less. I haven’t raced very closely for some time with all of them, so I can’t say in detail for all the drivers.”
It was a frustrating weekend all in all for Verstappen, a two-time winner in Mexico, and undoubtedly one of the most talented racers on the grid. First he was stripped off pole position for ignoring yellow flags, then he had an incident-packed race that at one point left him at the back of the field. He ultimately recovered to finish sixth.