The 2021 Formula One season was probably the most exciting since Nico Rosberg claimed the drivers’ championship battling to the end with team mate Lewis Hamilton in 2016. Yet last season’s battle led to a frayed relationship between the combatants Mercedes and Red Bull. Hamilton famously took out Verstappen at the high speed Copse corner at Silverstone receiving a deserved penalty from the stewards.
Verstappen and Hamilton came together in Monza at the first chicane as the dutchman battled to take the lead from the Mercedes driver. Max was penalised and deemed at fault by the stewards. Neither car resumed racing and Daniel Riccardo took McLaren’s first win since Jenson Button in 2012.
The war of words between the drivers engulfed the latter half of the season.
Verstappen called Hamilton a “Stupid Idiot” and flipped him the finger during practice at the US GP.
This season Hamilton took a swipe at Verstappen after battling LeClerc at Copse corner but did not crash like he did last season.
“He is a very sensible driver,” Hamilton said of Leclerc. “Clearly a lot different to what I experienced last year.”
Verstappen hit back: “I think Charles gave him less space than me last year, so that says it all,”
Verstappen was interview by Sky this week and asked how he compared the on track battle to last year.
“I prefer what we have now,” Verstappen told Sky Italia.
“Because, first of all, Charles I know very well, he’s a nice guy, we are a similar age – I think we are only three weeks apart.
“I think also we are fighting a very well-respected competitor in terms of Ferrari. The way they go about the way we are fighting… when they win a race we can go to them and say well done, and when we win a race they can say well done, and I really respect that.
“Also, certain people within the team, even [team principal Mattia Binotto], I have a really good relationship with him.
“On Saturday night, we even had a laugh in Paul Ricard, and I think that’s great because that’s what racing should be about. We are hard competitors on the track and we will always try to beat each other, which I think is very normal, but outside of it you can have a good time as well, and that’s what I really enjoy about this year.
“Let’s say it like this, I would not be on a table on Saturday night having a laugh with [Mercedes].”
Johnny Herbert of Sky in his usual confused mindset observed of Verstappen’s comments, “I don’t understand why his comments would be so negative towards Lewis and the battle that they had last year. I’m quite perplexed.”
Really Johnny? Did you never see the stoney silence between the drivers in the cool down room???
“He seems to sort of just dismissed Lewis straight away, and then he was straight onto Charles and Ferrari the battle they’re having,” Herbert continued as Verstappen had been asked to compare last seasons on track battles with this.
Herbert concludes on Verstappen’s interview, “[It was] disappointing actually in many respects.
Herbert comes across as a diehard Lewis Hamilton supporter justifying everything the British driver is criticised for.
Max was just being honest. His team had to change their rear wing because Mercedes persuaded the FIA it was illegal despite it passing the FIA rigidity tests.
Clearly the war of words between these two drivers has permeated down to their supporters. This season in Austria during qualifying Hamilton crashed out and the huge Dutch contingent cheered. The was a similar response at Silverstone in 2021 from the Hamilton fans.
F1 history demonstrates not all drivers ‘get on’ and we just have to accept it.
Senna v Prost was a classic example along with Hunt v Lauda. Michael Schumacher was not universally loved and even threw a punch at David Coulthard in the pit lane at the 1999 Belgian GP.
Herbert should not be criticising Verstappen for speaking his mind and he hardly called Lewis or Mercedes any names.
The comments from the Sky Presenter says more about his ability to present than it does about his views on Verstappen.
Herbert would be good in a Father Christmas suit with his chubby red face rather than stating the obvious an persistently saying “sort of” and irritating F1 TV viewers in general.