Lewis Hamilton says he has nothing however respect for his 2021 title rival Max Verstappen however can’t say for certain that the sensation is mutual.
Two years in the past the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen ignited as the 2 raced wheel-to-wheel for the Drivers’ Championship title, Hamilton chasing a record-breaking eighth and Verstappen his first.
It was evident from the get-go that neither driver was prepared to again down, even when meant crashing. They recorded two large crashes, Silverstone and Monza, every deemed liable for one of many massive ones.
Such was their excessive octane battle, they went into the season finale tied on factors in a winner-takes-all scenario. That winner was Verstappen, the Crimson Bull driver passing Hamilton on the ultimate lap of the season to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and safe his maiden World title.
Whereas followers hoped for half two to play out final season, it was to not be as Mercedes struggled whereas Crimson Bull raced away with the championship double.
The duo had one on-track second, clashing at first of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Hamilton shedding locations in consequence whereas Verstappen was slapped with a five-second penalty.
Hamilton declared “you understand how it’s with Max”, later including that he “wouldn’t maintain your breath” ready for a clear combat with Verstappen. However whereas he additionally spoke of being a “little bit of a goal”, he insists he has nothing towards Verstappen.
“Individuals like to speak about there being issues between Max and me,” he mentioned in an interview with Method 1 Journal, including that hypothesis that there’s a difficulty is simply “fairytales.
“I respect him.”
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Hamilton, nonetheless, couldn’t say if respect was mutual.
“He’s rather a lot youthful, so possibly he has an issue with me,” he continued. “However I’m not certain about that and I truly assume not. Though I can’t converse for him.”
The Mercedes driver additionally touched on their 2021 title combat, one which was determined in controversial circumstances when then FIA race director Michael Masi made an unprecedented name to permit solely the automobiles between race chief Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves to arrange a closing lap shoot-out.
Hamilton misplaced that, overtaken by Verstappen who was on more energizing tyres on that closing lap.
“He [Verstappen] did every part he needed to do in 2021, so why ought to I’ve an issue with him,” he mentioned. “He carried out and delivered each weekend, no person can take that away from him.”
It’s mutual, insists Max Verstappen
Hamilton needn’t query whether or not the respect is mutual, Verstappen has mentioned – greater than as soon as – that it’s.
He instructed Motorsport.com after their Interlagos conflict: “I all the time respect Lewis rather a lot for what he has achieved within the sport, however that’s why I don’t actually perceive why we can not actually race like I’ve been doing with the others.”
A number of weeks later he instructed the Each day Mail: “I used to be all the time taught that it’s important to respect what folks have achieved in sport. I’ve no drawback with what Lewis has achieved. He is without doubt one of the greatest ever.
“I do know it’s not solely the automobile he has been driving. That helps. Everyone knows that, however you continue to must beat your team-mate and Lewis has executed that constantly.
“I feel it’s important to acknowledge the particular person has executed a tremendous job as nicely.”
He additionally spoke of his respect for the seven-time World Champion within the fast aftermath of his 2021 title success.
“I’ve a variety of respect for Lewis, however you recognize, I’m simply very comfortable that I gained typically as a result of it’s been after all a really powerful season combating towards Mercedes and Lewis. However I don’t need to sound boastful or no matter, to say that it’s an excellent satisfaction to win towards him,” mentioned Verstappen.
“I simply have a variety of respect for him, and I do know he’s a tremendous driver by way of what he’s achieved however I’m simply very comfortable that we gained it.”