Max Verstappen hit back at title rival Lewis Hamilton in Monaco as their 2021 duel heats up both on and off the track.
First, the Mercedes driver and seven time world champion alleged that Red Bull has a massive advantage thanks to a ‘bendy’ rear wing that the team can continue to use until the FIA clampdown begins in the coming weeks.
“In Baku, that wing will give them about six tenths of a second,” Hamilton said on Wednesday.
“I think we need to put more pressure on the FIA to monitor things like this properly.”
Hamilton, 36, then upped the psychological pressure even more with a single loaded paragraph about his Dutch rival.
“Max gives me the impression that he wants to prove something in a duel,” international media reports quote the British driver as saying.
“I see it more like a marathon than a sprint. That’s why I will continue to avoid any contact on the track.”
Indeed, Hamilton is picking up on a line the media has taken as his duel with the 23-year-old heats up – that a clash between the pair is inevitable due to Verstappen’s notorious aggression.
The headline at Germany’s Auto Bild, for example, recently read: “When will the first crash occur in Hamilton and Verstappen’s mega duel for the title?”
When asked about Hamilton’s statement, Verstappen said in Monaco: “I have nothing to prove.
“As for avoiding contact, I think it goes both ways. We race hard but we have avoided contact on both sides, so hopefully we can keep on doing that.”
But it’s not just the media that is ramping up the likelihood of a Hamilton-Verstappen crash – McLaren supremo Zak Brown thinks a collision is just a “matter of time”.
“I honestly don’t know what to say about these things anymore,” Verstappen responded. “We never try to crash, do we?
“It’s just an easy way to make some headlines. I guess you get a bigger audience when you say ‘it’s a matter of time’ instead of ‘they’ve had some great races so far’.”