Hamilton: Important to keep respect in Verstappen F1 title fight

Lewis Hamilton says respect must remain “at the core of everything” during his Formula 1 title fight with Max Verstappen to avoid making their battle personal.

Mercedes driver Hamilton heads into the Mexico race weekend trailing Verstappen by 12 points in the fight for the drivers’ championship with five races remaining.

The two drivers have crashed together twice this year - at Silverstone and at Monza - and almost had a run-in during practice for the United States Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Hamilton and Verstappen went side-by-side through a series of corners in FP2 on Friday, with Verstappen ultimately backing out after being passed at Turn 1. The Red Bull driver raised his middle finger as Hamilton pulled away, and called him a “stupid idiot” over the radio.

Hamilton spoke about his handling of the title fight pressure during Thursday’s FIA press conference in Mexico after being asked how he avoided making their battle personal.

“I’ve been here for a long time, it’s not my first rodeo,” Hamilton said. “I think at the core of everything, there has to be respect. When I think about, and I hear the things that come out of drivers’ mouths, I do think there are kids watching us, and they’re looking to us for inspiration and for guidance.

“There has been a lot of things that have been said, which is definitely not good for young kids that are watching. For me, I’m just trying to remain positive and keep calm, and again, just be respectful to the drivers that I am fighting.

“If I have a name in my head of what I think they are, I don’t share that. But it’s pretty easy for me. You laugh it off, and you move forwards.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B collide

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B collide

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Hamilton expanded on his lack of overly emotional responses to setbacks or defeats this year by again citing his experience in F1 title battles. While Hamilton is a seven-time world champion, Verstappen is currently fighting for his first world title.

“I have been here a long time, I learned a lot in my time,” Hamilton said. “And also, I know, Max has not won a championship in a long, long time.

“So I know what it’s like going for your first championship, particularly in the sport, I know the pressures that come with that, and so it’s nothing less than I expected from him.

“He’s still a youngster, and he’s going to be growing a huge amount over the next decade, which I think everyone will be excited to see. I just try and if I can, lead by example.

“Because as I said, I know that I have a lot of youngsters particularly that are racing, that are looking at what I do and what I say. And that’s important for me.”

The high altitude conditions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City are expected to play to Red Bull’s strengths, with the team having typically done well at the track in the past.

Asked by Motorsport.com about the importance of breaking Red Bull’s momentum soon to ensure Verstappen does not pull too far ahead in the champion, Hamilton said it was “naturally up and down” between the two teams.

“We thought that we would be stronger, for example, in somewhere like Austin,” Hamilton said. “They were quite a bit stronger than us in the race. So I really can’t predict it.

“What I do know is last year, they out-qualified us here, and they were down on power compared to us through the year. Now they’re ahead on power, there or thereabouts, and they’ve got a very strong car that’s been affected less by the changes in the rules, that we were affected by.

“So they’re going to be rapid this weekend. Last year I think they were almost half a second ahead of us. Our car is not better than last year’s car, I would say with those changes.

“It’ll be interesting to see how we fare with them this weekend.”

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

2021 Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix session timings and preview
Previous article

2021 Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix session timings and preview

Next article

Alonso: F1 radio comments not "frustration" but about fairness

Alonso: F1 radio comments not "frustration" but about fairness
Load comments
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Formula 1
Dec 4, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021