Verstappen hits back at Hamilton criticism

Max Verstappen says it was “easy” for Lewis Hamilton to blame him for their Bahrain GP collision and insists he will not change his driving style.

Verstappen suffered terminal damage to his Red Bull after clipping Hamilton’s Mercedes when he attempted to pass the world champion at the inside of Turn One on the second lap of last Sunday’s race.

Both drivers said the other was at fault, with Hamilton accusing Verstappen of a lack of respect and saying the 20-year-old was making “inexperienced” moves and making too many mistakes.

But a defiant Verstappen says he had a fair chance at the move and had not done anything “crazy”.

“It’s simple and easy to blame the younger driver. That’s the only way I can see it. There is no reason for me to change anything,” Verstappen said ahead of this weekend’s Chinese GP.

“I might have a talk with [Lewis], it depends if it’s really necessary. Why should I change something? I don’t think I did anything wrong in terms of my approach. I was just trying to overtake a car and I think it was a fair chance. I went for it.

“That’s racing – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You can say whatever you like about the incident. I had fair shot at it, it was nothing crazy, nothing risky but unfortunately this time it didn’t work out.

“Looking back, in Mexico last year it did work out, this time maybe we didn’t give each other enough space. That’s racing.”

Hamilton later said he and Verstappen had shaken hands at a fan-signing event at the circuit, with the Dutchman acknowledging the gesture.

“I generally do my talking on the track. Obviously after this incident I didn’t, but I just saw Max now,” said Hamilton.

“It’s always good to show respect and being that I’m the older driver, I felt it was important that I went to him. So just as we were signing just now I shook his hand and I was like ‘look, I’m sorry about the last race’. Regardless of whether it is his fault or my fault, it doesn’t really matter. It’s in the past.

“Hopefully that sign of respect shows a lot and helps you move forwards racing each other. Hopefully it keeps respect between you because I think it’s important between drivers.

Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton in a move that ended the Red Bull driver’s race.

Asked what Verstappen said in response, Hamilton replied: “I don’t really know because there was a lot of noise around us, but he acknowledged it.”

Both drivers had found themselves starting out of position in Bahrain, Hamilton lining up ninth on the grid while Verstappen started 15th after spinning in qualifying.

Verstappen made a flying start to find himself behind Hamilton by the end of the opening lap and attempted a pass at the first corner.

But his RB14 clipped Hamilton’s W09 in the process, puncturing his left rear tyre and damaging his car’s differential and Verstappen was forced to retire moments later.

The stewards deemed it a ‘racing incident’, but Verstappen queried that decision at the time, telling the media: “I had a good run out of the last corner so I went for the inside.

“I think if it was the other way around he would have said something. From my side I gave him enough room.”

Hamilton labelled Verstappen a “d***head” in the cooldown room before saying the Dutchman lacked respect in his press conference.

“There needs to be a certain respect between drivers,” claimed Hamilton. “And ultimately… maybe I need to go and watch the manoeuvre again, but it didn’t feel like a respectful manoeuvre.

“It was a silly manoeuvre for himself, because he didn’t finish the race. And obviously he’s tending to make quite a few mistakes recently, so it was just unnecessary for him to do that.”

And having watched the incident again before leaving Bahrain, Hamilton suggested Verstappen was missing out on points due to his inexperience.

“I just think for him, he’s a young driver and is going to be learning all the time, he’s got fantastic pace but, as youngsters, we do not always make the right decisions,” said Hamilton, who is 13 years Verstappen’s senior.

“It’s interesting to hear from Christian [Horner] because they have got a car that should be getting good results and through these kind of… I don’t know if they are inexperienced, or not potentially mature, decisions, they’re not getting the results they would have. He should have finished a decent race really because he’s good enough to do that.

“I think to myself if Fernando [Alonso]’s in that car he would have finished a decent race and got points for Red Bull. I’d like to think if I was in that car I would have got points for Red Bull.”

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