Hamilton and Vettel race Verstappen differently to other F1 rivals

Formula 1

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel race differently against Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in Formula 1, and Hamilton says crashes are likely if you don’t “leave extra space”.

Hamilton and Verstappen came together on the opening lap of the Mexican Grand Prix, with Hamilton oversteering at Turn 2 and edging both drivers off the track and onto the grass.

Five laps into the race, Verstappen then made a lunge into the stadium section on Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas, but he was hit in the right-rear by Bottas after the latter tried to cut back onto the racing line.

Despite Verstappen not appearing to be at fault for either of those incidents, Verstappen’s driving was brought up in the post-race press conference.

Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas were quizzed on whether they give Verstappen extra room and if he is the most aggressive driver on the grid.

“Yeah, I think every driver is slightly different,” said Hamilton. “Some are smarter; some are very smart, aggressive, and some are silly with it.

“And so, through those experiences of racing with people, you give some more space, and others you don’t have to. They’re quite respectful.

“But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do.

“But as I said, in my experience, I didn’t have a lot of space to give him extra space [in the incident at Turn 2].

“But I don’t think it was intentional or anything like that.

“He’s a magnet for those kinds of things, but yeah, nonetheless, I managed to keep the car together and in a straight line, fortunately.”

When Vettel was asked if he treated Verstappen differently and if the Red Bull driver was the most aggressive in the field, he said: “Yes and yes!”

Asked to expand, Vettel said: “No, just copy-paste [Hamilton’s answer]. It’s true.”

Bottas, describing the incident in the stadium, said that Verstappen had “earned his own puncture” in answer to the same question.

“Yeah, for me, just out of nowhere he appeared on the inside into Turn 13 and I couldn’t disappear from there,” added Bottas. “He just dived in and we touched.

“He got a puncture from that. I couldn’t really avoid him, so I think he earned his own puncture, definitely.

“But, I don’t know, every driver is obviously different. Some are more aggressive, some are less.

“I haven’t raced very closely for some time with all of them, so I can’t say in detail for all the drivers.”

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