Max Verstappen says any lingering tension with 2021 rival Lewis Hamilton may now be one-sided.
The pair were locked in an ultra-intense battle for last year’s title, with the ill-feeling between Red Bull and Mercedes still lingering after the controversial Abu Dhabi finale and subsequent budget cap saga.
But 2021 and 2022 world champion Verstappen says he has heard that Hamilton, 37, may still hold a grudge.
“People have told me that he doesn’t use my name,” the 25-year-old told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
“I was always taught that you have to respect what people have achieved in sport. I have no problem with what Lewis has achieved. He is one of the best ever.
Another driver with a fractious history with Hamilton is his former 2007 McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, whose latest interview for the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf is making waves.
“I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but still it is different when you win seven world titles when you only had to fight with your teammate,” the Spaniard said.
“I never had to fight with my teammate to win my titles,” said the 2005 and 2006 drivers’ championship winner. “Nor did I see Max fighting with Perez or Albon to win races.”
When Alonso’s comments created an online backlash, he insisted that the publication was guilty of a “continuous search for headlines”.
“Please, all the titles are amazing, well deserved and inspiring. Incomparable to each other and let’s enjoy champions and legends of our current time,” he said on Twitter.
Verstappen said he wouldn’t make the same kind of claims about whether Hamilton fully deserves his record-equalling seven titles.
“I know it is not only the car he has been driving,” he said. “That helps – we all know that. But you still have to beat your teammate and Lewis has done that consistently.
“I think you have to acknowledge the person has done an amazing job as well.”
However, he indicated that his and Hamilton’s personalities are very different when it comes to one aspect of their success in Formula 1 – fame.
“I never wanted to be known. I wish I could walk around and nobody would know me,” said the Red Bull driver.
“I am not here to be liked and it’s not going to ruin my day. I am having a great time with my team. People can say what they like, but I am here to perform.”