BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Max Verstappen felt Lewis Hamilton’s victory celebrations at the British Grand Prix last weekend were “really disrespectful” considering he was in the hospital after being knocked out of the race by him.
Although Hamilton did call him afterward to talk things through, Verstappen is still bitter with the seven-time Formula One champion for the Lap 1 incident at the high-speed Copse corner. Verstappen got clipped by Hamilton's Mercedes and flew off hard into a barrier. He needed precautionary checks.
“One guy is in hospital and the other one is waving a flag around like nothing happened, when you push a guy into a wall at 51G. Not only that, just the whole reaction of the team,” Verstappen said Thursday. “That’s not how you celebrate a win, especially a win how they got it, that’s what I find really disrespectful. I would be upset with myself for a move like that and I would definitely not celebrate like that.”
He took a swipe at Mercedes for their exuberance.
“It shows how they really are, it comes out after a pressured situation,” Verstappen said. “But I wouldn’t want to be seen like that ... I could not celebrate like that.”
Hamilton did get a 10-second time penalty but was able to pass race leader Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari near the end for a 99th career win. He slashed Verstappen’s overall lead from 33 points to eight.
“I’m not happy with what happened there and to lose so many points,” Verstappen said. “I don’t think the penalty was correct. Especially with the speed we have, we are miles ahead of Mercedes with the speed. A 10-second penalty doesn’t do anything, so that penalty should definitely have been more severe.”
Hamilton defended himself, saying he was not aware at the time that Verstappen had gone to the hospital.
“It’s one thing knowing and then celebrating what happened, and there’s one thing not knowing and celebrating. I said I was not aware (he was in the hospital),” Hamilton said Thursday. “It’s my home Grand Prix ... Emotions were running high. It was not an intentional celebration (against him). I’m not going to hide my emotions.”
The rivalry between the 23-year-old Verstappen and the 36-year-old Hamilton pits the finest raw talent of recent years against a veteran chasing a record eighth title to move one clear of Michael Schumacher.
Like the old rivalries of the past — between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and when Schumacher battled contenders in his prime — it is on a razor's edge.
“Wheel-to-wheel racing is always the best," Hamilton said. "We’re now watching two teams incredibly close in performance. The rivalry’s not bad for the sport, how we engage with the fans, if there’s more people watching.”
Like those greats, Hamilton won’t change his racing style for anyone's sake.
“In terms of the move, I would do it exactly the way I did," he said. “My experience over the years speaks for a lot, I wouldn’t change it.”
On Sunday, Hamilton will bid for a record-extending ninth win overall at the Hungaroring and fourth straight.
“I really love it here in Budapest. This is an old circuit; they don’t make the tracks like they used to,” he said. "It’s a track that works for an aggressive driver in terms of racing style.”
Later Thursday, Hamilton was cleared of any further wrongdoing by the FIA after it reviewed the incident at the request of Red Bull.
The governing body took no further action after hearing from Red Bull via video conference. New information, including slides and GPS data, was rejected.
The FIA said stewards did not see “a significant and relevant new element which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time.”
The FIA also noted that stewards were concerned by “certain allegations made” by Red Bull, while Mercedes responded strongly.
“We hope that this decision will mark the end of a concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton,” Mercedes said in a statement.
In addition to a stack of lost points, Red Bull estimated the cost of the damage at $1.8 million.
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