Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are currently in the best Formula 1 title fight since Nico Rosberg nicked one in 2016. It has had it all so far, with words exchanged and iffy crash after iffy crash. Ahead of the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton tried to verbally twist the knife.
Hamilton, you see, has been in Verstappen’s shoes as a young twentysomething championship contender and he has some not-at-all-condescending things to say about it, via The Guardian:
Hamilton suggested Verstappen’s inexperience in a title fight was exposed in him feeling the pressure as the pair fought wheel to wheel.
“Obviously he won’t admit to it, and I’m not going to make an assumption, but I remember what it was like when I had my first [title fight] and it definitely mounted up,” Hamilton said, “It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions and I didn’t always handle it the best. There’s a lot of self expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge.”
To which Verstappen sarcastically replied:
“Yeah, I’m so nervous I can barely sleep. I mean, it’s so horrible to fight for a title. I really hate it. Those comments, it just shows you that he really doesn’t know me – which is fine. I also don’t need to know him, how he is. I’m very relaxed about all those things and I really can’t be bothered, I’m very chilled.”
Verstappen is not mad, you see, and is actually laughing. And while that usually indicates a losing position, I will tentatively rule this round for Max, given that Hamilton’s comments are frankly a little uncalled for, as this is Verstappen’s seventh season in F1. They are probably a mistake, too, strategically speaking, as, if anything, they will just give Verstappen more motivation. Max is gonna win this year, I’ve never been so sure.