Hamilton: Verstappen 'beef' was squashed ahead of US GP
It’s one of the most compelling rivalries on the grid: the grand champion versus the exciting prospect who wants to steal his crown. But Lewis Hamilton has said that any tension that might have been bubbling up between him and Max Verstappen, following the pair’s opening lap fracas in Mexico, has been put aside.
Hamilton and Verstappen made light contact between Turns 1 and 2 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last month, with Hamilton later saying the Red Bull driver was a “magnet” for such situations – with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel firmly agreeing the Dutchman needs to be left more space in the post-race press conference.
Verstappen responded by calling Hamilton’s comments “silly” and saying that he was clearly in his rivals’ heads – but the newly crowned six-time world champion said the two put whatever tension there was between them to bed ahead of the United States Grand Prix in Austin.
“I spoke to Max before the race,” explained Hamilton, “and I was like, ‘Dude, you’re such a great racer, man, let’s squash whatever happened between us, whatever beef, let’s just get rid of it. Let’s go out there and have a great race, man’.
“He’s the champion of the future and I’m going to work as hard as I can to stop that from happening for a while, but I’m enjoying racing with him.”
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This season has seen tantalising glimpses of what could become a classic F1 rivalry, with the pair staging a thrilling battle for victory in Hungary, which ultimately went the way of the Mercedes man.
Then, following their Mexican contact, the pair were at loggerheads again in qualifying in Austin, when Verstappen angrily reacted after they nearly collided in heavy traffic.
Next up, of course, is Brazil, where the duo finished one-two last year, separated by just 1.4s. They may be on good terms, but don’t expect either to give an inch if they find themselves in a similar situation again…