Max Verstappen countered Lewis Hamilton’s claim that the Red Bull driver is out to prove himself by getting his elbows out against the seven-time world champion as their battle intensifies.
On Wednesday in Monaco, Hamilton said that he had “done well” so far this season to avoid an on-track clash with his gutsy opponent, referencing the pair’s frequent wheel-too-wheel fights.
The Briton added that Verstappen’s combative driving was perhaps justified by a need “to prove” himself while the Mercedes driver no longer “in the same boat there”.
But the Red Bull charger was quick to dismiss he’s arch-rival’s remark.
“Nope, I have nothing to prove,” Verstappen said. “And avoiding contact, I think it goes both ways. So we have done well, that’s true.
“But yeah, we race hard, we avoided the contact both sides. So let’s hope we can keep doing that and keep being on track and racing hard against each other.”
Verstappen also took exception with a recent comment by McLaren boss Zak Brown, who said that it was “only a matter of time” until Hamilton and Verstappen clash on the track.
The Dutchman brushed off Brown’s words as mere click-bait.
“I honestly don’t know what to say any more about these things,” Verstappen said.
“We never try to crash, do we? It’s just to make a few interesting headlines like that.
“I guess it will have a bit more viewers when you say it’s a matter of time, instead of saying we had some great races so far. People will of course click that more.”
Read also: ‘Long-term’ Hamilton hoping to avoid clash with Verstappen
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel defended Verstappen’s view, insisting on the small margin for error that exists in wheel-to-wheel battles. The German also commended both drivers on racing fair and square.
“One thing that people outside don’t seem to understand is how close it is sometimes and how easily things can go wrong without having any intention,” Vettel said.
“Nobody goes into an overtake wanting to take the other car out or himself out, because the risk of getting it wrong is just so high.
“But then you want to get past sometimes or then defend your position, and you’re playing with very little margins, and it’s taking so little to get it wrong.
“So far, they have done really well, and I think it shows the class that they both have,” he added.
“I don’t see why you’re so excited to wait for a crash. I think you should be so excited that they managed to race that close and intense without crashing.
“That’s the skill, not crashing. I know for you it’s more exciting when there’s bits flying, but for us, I think we get a blast by managing to be right on the edge and mastering that.”
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