[Verstappen: Hamilton remarks suggest he is “jealous” of Red Bull F1 success
Hamilton has triggered much debate over the Italian Grand Prix weekend after suggesting that Verstappen’s success in F1 has been easier to achieve because he has not faced a bigger challenge from his team’s second car.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Monza weekend, Hamilton said: “When I qualified half a second, six tenths ahead of Valtteri [Bottas], they [the media] didn’t say the same thing as they say today when Max qualifies six tenths ahead of [Sergio] Perez.
“It’s blown up much more. In my personal opinion, Valtteri and all of my team-mates have been stronger than the team-mates that Max has had.
“Jenson [Button], Fernando [Alonso], George [Russell], Valtteri, Nico [Rosberg]. I’ve had so many. These guys have all been very, very strong, very consistent and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
Those remarks have now drawn a pointed response from Verstappen, who thinks they have been caused by Hamilton having envy over what Red Bull is delivering in F1 right now.
“Maybe he’s a little bit jealous of our current success,” Verstappen said at Monza. “I don’t know why he says that.
“Maybe he thinks there is something to win or defend with comments like that, but for me it doesn’t matter at all.”
Hamilton’s comments have come in the wake of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff having generated criticism from Verstappen and Red Bull over suggestions the RB19 had been developed wholly around the Dutchman’s driving style.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Erik Junius
Verstappen senses that the nature of the criticisms being pointed in Red Bull’s direction were evidence of Mercedes not having an easy time accepting it is no longer on top in F1.
“I think it’s very difficult for Mercedes to deal with losing,” added Verstappen. “That’s the problem you have when you’ve won for so many years of course.
“But, at the end of the day, you have to be realistic as well. If it’s not possible [to win], then it’s not possible. You have to be able to appreciate what other teams are doing as well. We did that in the years when Mercedes dominated.
“Back then we just said to ourselves ‘we have to work harder’, because at that time we were simply not good enough compared to them.
“You can keep saying that the things we are achieving at the moment are not that special, or at least that is probably what they think, but in the end, you just have to focus on yourself because that is the only thing you can influence.”
While there has been a great deal of focus about the remarks Hamilton made about Verstappen, Wolff thinks that it is nothing more than a bit of banter between rival drivers.
“Obviously the drivers like to poke each other,” he said. “But then you can see that Lewis raced world champions: he raced Jenson, he raced Fernando and he raced Nico.
“But I don’t want to, in any way, diminish anybody’s performance, because Max in the car is outstanding. It’s just part of the fun.”