Verstappen: ‘Nice at 37 Hamilton can learn how to hit an apex’

Max Verstappen responded to Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion that racing “sensible” Charles Leclerc is “very different” by saying it’s nice he “can still learn how to hit an apex” at 37.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Hamilton and Verstappen experienced a fierce rivalry through their fight for last year’s F1 championship, going wheel-to-wheel at a number of races that included a handful of collisions.

The first major incident between the two drivers came at last year’s British Grand Prix, where they collided when battling for the lead at Copse on the opening lap of the race. The high-speed collision resulted in a 51G impact for Verstappen in the barrier, while Hamilton went on to win the race despite receiving a penalty for the incident.

The duo also collided at Monza, as well as having run-ins in Brazil and Saudi Arabia ahead of their showdown in Abu Dhabi where Verstappen clinched the title on the final lap of the race.

Following last week’s race at Silverstone where he enjoyed a side-by-side battle against Leclerc at Copse, Hamilton called the Ferrari driver “very sensible” in an interview on Sky F1, adding it was "clearly a lot different to what we experienced last year”.

Speaking to the Dutch media on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen was asked about Hamilton’s comments and whether he thought Leclerc was a more sensible driver than he was.

“I think it's quite nice that, at 37 years of age, you can still learn how to hit an apex,” Verstappen replied.

“He is learning, so that is positive. It is also good for younger drivers to know that you are still learning when you are 37 years old.”

Pressed on what he thought when he heard Hamilton’s comments, Verstappen reiterated his point that it was “good that he has found the apex now”.

The car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, is returned to the garage on  a truck under a tarpaulin

The car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, is returned to the garage on a truck under a tarpaulin

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

“You can clearly see in the footage what was different compared to last year,” Verstappen said.

“I think Charles gave him less space than I did last year, so that says it all. And in the end, [Lewis] was the one who got penalised last year, so there's no point talking about that either.”

As Verstappen chases his second straight F1 title, the Dutchman sits 34 points clear of the field with six wins to his name. By comparison, Hamilton is yet to finish a race any higher than third this year amid Mercedes’ struggles under the new regulations.

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Asked if he thought Hamilton’s comments were part of the game, Verstappen said he thought they were “a bit blunt”, but would have “no effect on my performance”.

“I just have to concentrate on what we're doing here,” Verstappen said. “I think we're doing pretty well this year. That's what I'm concentrating on.”

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