Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Hungaroring, 2019

Hamilton-Verstappen fight could have been “a lot more aggressive”

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he and Max Verstappen would have fought each other a lot harder in the Hungarian Grand Prix if both of them had been in contention for the championship.

The Mercedes driver said he was anticipating the scrap between the pair of them after he overtook team mate Valtteri Bottas on lap one.

“As soon as I got into second I was like ‘OK, this whole battle we’ve been talking about me and Max having, we’re going to have that today’. And it was really awesome.”

However he admitted he went into the fight with one eye on the championship. Hamilton went into the race leading the title fight with Verstappen 63 points behind in third place.

“He put the car in some good places,” said Hamilton, “I gave him space and more today, but that’s just from the mindset that we’re fighting slightly different. If we were fighting over the same points it may have been a lot more aggressive but there was no need for that today.

“It was really just making sure that when we do finally pull off that overtaking manoeuvre it’s a clean, full sweep by.”

Hamilton praised Verstappen for the “respect” he showed during their battle.

“There is really no better feeling from a racing driver’s point of view when you have a race like today where you face a really strong competitor and a great driver like Max obviously at their best. Max at his best and continuing to perform great.

“It’s really comforting and awesome to see firstly the respect level between us I think out there was really respectful driving. I hope to continue that.”

Red Bull’s emergence as regular contenders for victory will make the coming races more exciting, Hamilton added.

“I’m so happy that, particularly after a period of time where everyone was so negative talking about the sport, all of a sudden we’ve had this big step up from the Red Bulls.

“Now we’ve got a really good battle on his hands and it looks like it’s here to stay. And I think Ferrari will come back into play in some of these other long, long [tracks] like Spa and Monza.”

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57 comments on “Hamilton-Verstappen fight could have been “a lot more aggressive””

  1. I would argue that Verstappen is in contention, certainly more than Vettel – or the Title Rival as some media sources continue to label Vettel despite the fact that Bottas and now Verstappen are looking to have a greater chance.

    But what I think Hamilton meant here is that they would have both been more agreesive had points been a lot closer and a win would nudge either ahead of the other. But at the minute Hamilton is focused on extending his already hefty lead, whilst Verstappen is focused on moving himself up the points board. So both need to secure the maximum points they can and not risk it by being too agressive and causing accidents/incurring penalties etc

    Another factor for Verstappen is the need to secure maximum points for the WCC, to close the gap and potentially move past Ferrari in 2nd.

    1. But at the minute Hamilton is focused on extending his already hefty lead, whilst Verstappen is focused on moving himself up the points board. So both need to secure the maximum points they can and not risk it by being too agressive and causing accidents/incurring penalties etc

      @nikkit – very good point.

    2. well said nikki. i must add in my own opinion verstappen was up until recently very full of himself to the point he seemed to have chip on his shoulder. he came across to me as arrogant, immature and a bit of a cheat (borderline) with some of his on track moves. but since d crash with Ocon and lewis commenting on ver losing the race just to win the corner, verstappen has grown in maturity and race craft. he seems alot more down to earth. and im not saying any of this in a negative way.

      1. @wayne
        The only thing Max learned from that Ocon incident is that you can trust certain backmarkers, and that Lewis can be full of it. (And very, very full of himself too.)
        Once again, Max did literally nothing wrong in that incident, hence the severe penalty for Ocon, and Max was already driving at a very mature and consistent level before that incident.

        1. Max did do something wrong, he didn’t leave space, irrespective of who the race leader what etc, he wasn’t racing Ocon and i’ve heard frequently on the radio to Hamilton at times his race engineer telling him to be careful of the back markers. I think Max did learn from that and his other scrapes and it’s partly the reason why his points tally this season is as high as it is, the car is capable of victory if he drives well, the engineers to their job, the strategists do their’s there is no reason why Red bull can’t maximise their points if the other rivals slip up.

          Even looking at the decisive pass Hamilton made on Verstappen, he left him plenty of room no cheeky cut in front of him etc, that i’ve seen Hamilton do to Rosberg.

          All relevant i think.

          1. Again, Max did nothing wrong there, this was all on Ocon (hence the penalty). Probably Ocon’s inexperience, but his reaction after the race was pure arrogance, with him laughing. Vettel showed us how this is done (Silverstone), and I hope Ocon has noted that.

          2. @icarby
            Max wasn’t racing Ocon; there was literally zero obligation for him to leave room, hence the penalty for Ocon.
            Max was like a guy on a night out, being stalked by an agressive drunk, trying to ignore the drunk but still punched in the back by that same drunk. Blame the drunk, or blame Max?

          3. @Oconomo
            There’s a difference between not being responsible for an accident and avoiding an accident by being cautious, calculating the probability of another driver (or road user) causing an accident. I don’t get why people can’t grasp this conceptual difference. Hamilton’s point was that he should have been wary of Ocon wanting to fight him still. And on evidence of his driving since, Verstappen undoubtedly listened to that advice.

          4. @david-br – very good. People get stuck in the whole “Did Max make a mistake or not?” debate, sidestepping the fact that the answer is irrelevant: in the end, Max was the big loser.

            Your comparison to road accidents is spot on – I don’t want to be the dead victim who was “in the right”, I’d rather yield even when I have right of way.

            And yes, Max definitely learnt the right lesson from that encounter, more power to him.

          5. @david-br @phylyp +100. Well summarized. I see this attitude all the time in my (low level) karting competition: people who crash because they refused to yield when the rules say they are in the right. Ok, you have the rules backing you up but you are in the grass. Sometimes you have to correct the faults others make.

          6. Sometimes you have to correct the faults others make.

            @matthijs – I must remember that phrase when teaching others defensive driving. Thank you.

          7. @phylyp @matthijs I think there is a separate argument about whether Ocon was entitled to be racing Max and thus whether the incident was a racing incident (50/50 in terms of blame). I could argue why, and incite another round of arguments, but really it comes down to the same: if Ocon thought he could race, then Max could have calculated that Ocon might still think he could challenge, and so definitely would (given their back history), and Max could have adjusted his own line accordingly, waiting to power past him on the straight.

            It’s just experience. Hamilton said how he planned to pass Max safely in Hungary laps before he reached him! And when he did, he gave Max and himself acres of space to ensure it was clean.

          8. Haha you two defending Max over the Ocon incident are way too biased.
            Your drunk analogy is a good one, except it is more like instead of just avoiding the drunk and nothing happens, you decide to fire back and make a scene out of it, triggering a certain fight.

          9. @david-br You see for me you have just ended your own argument. Max indeed calculated that he would be avoiding an accident by correctly surmising that backmarkers trying to unlap themselves simply do not challenge the race leader aggressively. Knowing this, Max had no reasonable expectation that Ocon would do a penalty-worthy act. Unless of course we shall rewrite the rules and insist that now all backmarkers can fight he race leader aggressively, and presumably they’ll also do away with blue flags.

          10. The stewards ruled Ocon was entirely to blame for the incident.

            “The driver of car 31 (Esteban Ocon) was a lapped car. The stewards noted that he had new Super Soft tyres. Ocon attempted a pass on the leader, car 33 (Max Verstappen) to un-lap himself at the outside of turn one.

            “The stewards determined that he failed to complete the pass at turn one, and as a lapped car, fought the leader for track position, causing the collision at turn two with the race leader.”

            Tell us again; Who did what wrong?

          11. Hi @robbie, thought you might answer that :)
            But that’s the entire point, Max therefore calculatedly wrongly, right? One of the skills and forms of knowledge that comes with experience is knowing how other drivers act, both individually (driver quirks and styles) and generally in certain kinds of context. To take another example, Verstappen has a somewhat different approach to cornering, often moving further out than other drivers before turning into the apex, which has sometimes caught other drivers (Vettel for example) out, thinking there is a gap to exploit when there isn’t. So whatever Ocon’s fault (or not) Max might have anticipated he’d still be fighting the corner, even if pointlessly in terms of both their races.

          12. @david-br And around and around we go eh? Lol.

            Max’s only experience is that it is simply not done in F1 to, as a backmarker, including one trying to unlap himself, aggressively challenge the race leader. If that was how F1 worked, firstly it would be a lot different F1, and secondly, Max would have anticipated/expected the challenge he got and would have played things entirely differently. Simply, Ocon did not belong sticking his nose where it didn’t belong at that particular spot, and all of Max’s experience and knowledge of F1 had taught him that he was not going to be dive-bombed by Ocon. Max was supported on this by Ocon’s penalty. Since this incident Max is still left with the same knowledge and experience he had before the incident. A driver is not to aggressively challenge a race leader. End of. Easy to say in hindsight Max should have left more room. As it was happening Max had nothing to draw from that would have told him in that split second that a backmarker might be aggressive enough to risk taking him out. Max calculated correctly that the line he chose was his to choose with the onus on Ocon to not interfere with that. And he did. And he was penalized.

            My road going analogy would be that we go about our lives on a daily basis going through green lights at intersections fully expecting that to our right and left other drivers are going to obey the red lights they have, and wait to go through. We do not creep up to green lights assuming there is a good chance others will ignore their red lights. A green light means we’re good to go, and Max had a green light to not be aggressively interfered with as the race leader.

      2. These kind of messages always make me laugh. Verstappen hasnt changed that mindset of his. Yes he is a little bit more aware that points matter more than taking too much risk but other than that its still the same Max with all the habits you hate. You can get more experienced in driving but you cant just change who you are.
        I’ll bet next time he makes a mistake and you think its his fault, you’ll start complaining that he is so immature etc.

        1. You can get more experienced in driving but you cant just change who you are.

          @Valinor Some truth in that.

          1. @david-br
            “There’s a difference between not being responsible for an accident and avoiding an accident by being cautious, calculating the probability of another driver (or road user) causing an accident.”

            And how do you learn to calculate those risks? By experience. And listening to Max after the race, it seems pretty clear he was never taken out by a backmarker before, hence he couldn’t calculate the risk because there was no risk.

            So, to summarize, Max did nothing wrong, and learned a harsh lesson. And funny enough, the first time he came in a simular situation, he choose the right path. Taught to him by experience!

          2. So we agree 100%! :P

            Ocon had pit-warmed tyres while Max was tyre conserving, meaning that Ocon was closing up. He was given the OK by his team to pass, but when he attempted, Max blocked and sped up – entirely within his right to do so. But that turned Ocon unlapping himself into competing for the first corner. That’s where it becomes ‘liminal’. Does Ocon immediately cede way or race through the rest of the corner sequence? Asking a racer not to race when the other racer (Max) is clearly trying to put him in his place (‘you’re a backmarker, stay back, no passing’) and with their history of skirmishes must have provoked red mist in Ocon’s head at that moment. So he contested the first corner and was still in that mindset at the second. My doubt over the collision is that Max’s objective switched from winning the race to teaching Ocon a lesson. He was making it personal. And if you do that, taking your mind off just winning the race, you’re asking for trouble. That’s why I didn’t have much sympathy for him, and had some for Ocon, who was being treated with a tad of contempt in that incident. Like I said, in terms of regulations, Max was right, Ocon wrong. But there’s often a bigger picture, the personalities involved, which is why watch racing anyhow.

          3. @david-br Sounds like you are admitting Ocon was too hot headed…too bound and determined to pass Max, that he forgot that he was to do so cleanly without aggressively challenging Max. I’ll say again especially now as I have said before, since you’re bringing personalities into it and it being personal, tell me honestly that you still think Ocon would have done exactly the same misbehaviour towards LH if it was LH leading that race in Max’s place. And then would have faced LH down afterwards with a smirk.

            No, you’ve admitted that it seemed Ocon couldn’t let it go, couldn’t just let Max go, and forgot the onus was on him to keep it clean. If he had all that much more pace he needed to back out at the corner in question and use it on the next straight or drs zone to then blow by Max without costing the race leader any time or other grief or aggravation for example tire wise or in any other way.

          4. @robbie We’ll probably have to continue agreeing to disagree on this one. It was definitely ‘personal’ between the two and MV definitely had the rules on his side; I agree Ocon shouldn’t have contested corner 2, but wasn’t surprised he did; I think Max speeding up/blocking on corner 1 was provocative and I doubt he’d have done that with just any backmarker, but we’ll never know. But no, Ocon would indeed have backed down had Hamilton decided to speed up, probably Vettel or Bottas too.

          5. @david-br Fair enough. Happy to leave it at that…until next time of course. Lol.

        2. @Dan

          Tell me; How was Max firing back?

          1. @phylyp
            “Your comparison to road accidents is spot on – I don’t want to be the dead victim who was “in the right”, I’d rather yield even when I have right of way.”
            So everytime you reach a crossroad and the lights are green you slow down, look left, look right, and then cross?
            I know exactly one person in my life who does that, and she is the only one I know who was involved in a severe accident where the other driver drove through red and hit her in the side.
            Everyone else I know, me included, doesn’t even slow down.

          2. @ Oconomo
            er he decided to not give space. To continue the analogy, instead of avoiding the drunk, he fronted up to them, and we all know how that will go against the intoxicated. To take the analogy further, as he was winning the race at the time, it was like he decided to front up to the drunk whilst also carrying $50K. BTW Sorry Ocon for being the drunk in this analogy, but remember I didn’t start it lol!

          3. So everytime you reach a crossroad and the lights are green you slow down, look left, look right, and then cross?

            When the police are not around or traffic is light (i.e. late at night), I absolutely do so. Running red lights is a major problem in my country at night, and if you don’t want to be T-boned, you definitely pay attention to the traffic on the other two sides (heck, all 360 degrees!).

        3. Opinions about Max… it only shows people care which is good.

          Like Max himself said over and over, “I won;t chance my driving style cause others have an opinion it, this style has brought me succes ever since I staed karting at age 7 and got me into F1 at age 17”
          Verstappen can’t care less about what people write or say about him…he can’t be bothered, is that being arrogant or immature… I think it’s self protection and confidence. His personality reflects his racing.

          Can’t believe people still question the actions in Brasil, Max should have, could have….. in 70 years of F1 never ever a backmarker started a direct fight with a raceleader… how can people expect Max to anticipate on a utter unique action by a jealous former rival…?

          1. @matn Well said.

  2. Let the Mindgames begin! Reminds me Rosberg times.

  3. I am not certain if Hamilton realizes, that they are actually in contention?

    Maybe this is all just media games, they are playing trying to shrug off any sign of contention.

    But make no mistake, if Lewis has any serious issues in second part of the season fight is on. Max had no off weekends so far, Lewis was struggling quite a bit until Sunday.

    This is why he is a multiple champion though, when he was failing for some time, he turned it around and bounced back with a brilliant performance for first place.

    Max did what was possible on Sunday, he could have blocked Hamilton on overtake and risked crashing, but that is not his new style. It takes a torpedo to crash him out of the race.

    1. Oh he realises.

      That’s full on trollface from Hamilton and just an escalation from last week when Max was doing the same regarding him.

      That was Hamilton putting Max in his place. And for this year? Yeah, it’ll work. Next year they’re (hopefully) going to be in for a titanic scrap. Gloves will be off.

      1. @stopitrawr
        Hamilton putting Max in his place? Lol, he wishes. He, once again, realized Max doesn’t break under pressure and his “mindgames” have literally zero effect on Max.

        1. Well he won. Placed Max in his place? Not so certain about that. Max has a psychopathic self-belief.

          Second place was 0 disappointment for him. He did not seem rattled or shaken or in any way or shape placed in his “place”.

          Next year Hamilton will be a year further in decline and Max a year further in to his prime. At some point crossover will happen, sometimes Max is already clearly better.

        2. And you know this because you have seen max in a season long legitimate battle for the WDC? 🤔. So often he, and Red Bull come off like stars because they are more often in the position Hamilton/Merc were in on Sunday. Leading is not always the best possible position to be in when it comes to taking risk. Lewis and Merc did exactly what Red Bull are often in position to do and look what happened.. even the race in Germany . All things equal Max was not faster than Hamilton. He couldn’t even get past Bottas and they were both over 9 seconds adrift before the meylee began and as is often the case when you have “less” to lose it’s easier to roll the dice. You saw how Red Bull lost their balls when risking losing the lead comes into play. Max is a great talent. No doubt. With less than 10 wins, 1 pole and never challenging for a WDC I don’t understand this talk of him being some racing god. To assume he is unbreakable is rather bizarre considering he is yet to be in a high pressure situation where a WDC is on line. When he is, and he performs the way LH did in 16 (second half) 17 and 18 then I will be willing to accept your opinion as fact. As of now it’s only just you guessing that he is unbreakable . I’ve seen him get very emotional a few times so I’m not yet convinced he is the unflappable racing god that some of his fans (all the Vettel fans who hate Hamilton have now become Verstappen fans) think he is. He still hasn’t come close to Proving it in my opinion

          1. Mercedes is the key word here… some just don;t realise RBR is the 3rd best car on most tracks…yet Max is trailing Bottas for 2nd…

            As for the pressure to win the title…there’s no pressure, Leiws 6th title this year is already sealed and is about the easiest title he ever won

          2. @motogpfan I disagree with your opinion.

            @Matn Agreed and of course at some tracks RBR is a second place team, better than Ferrari, but their WCC points haul is diminished by Gasly’s lower performance.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        6th August 2019, 20:54

        Actually the fact that Verstappen is apparently so comfortable with losing isn’t really a good thing.

        Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser – Vince Lombardi

    2. @jureo – Not sure i agree. Red bull have mainly capitilised from Mercedes and Ferrari mishaps. The biggest improvement for Redbull this year is that their package has made strong improvements with the engine and the aero and of course Max’s performances.

      Hamilton doesn’t normally start strong, but finishes very, very strong plus the development from the Merc engineering team will be already looking at ways to improve the car, case in point cooling issues from Austria, they had parts ready and aero upgrades ready for the following race, meaning they already knew where their car was weak and it was already in the pipeline to address.

      I expect the Merc Team to come back firing on all cyclinders. Ferrari, well they have too many issues in too many parts of their team to even consider them a real threat. I think the amount of development required from Redbull will have to be tremendous to derail the Merc team even though I’m confident to a point they can definitely steal 2nd position in the constructors from Ferrari assuming Gasly steps up.

      If Hamilton does have an off race, I’m sure Bottas will be there to pick up the pieces and is still Hamilton’s closest rival, not by much, so at the moment even though he’s driving really well Max will have to hope that other circumstances fall into place.

      1. Good comment.

        I am not sure if they are in contention but I see Redbull as a bunch of smart streetfighters, taking advantage of the slightest mistakes from their opponents. Not yet at the level of Mercedes (and maybe even Ferrari) but good enough to fight them and pull the trigger when they see an opportunity.

        Their biggest shortcoming currently, in my opinion, is not the car or PU but Gasly. They need a smart and strong second driver who can help develop the car and work their strategy.

      2. Yeah you are correct in most ways.

        Mercedes are clear ahead, even with whatever Max can do at most RBR is looking at 5 wins over a season, Ferrari maybe will take 1 more max.

        But make no mistake Hamilton cannot take it easy at all, he needs to be on his A-game. RedBull will be within 10-20 seconds of P1 on every race. If Hamilton looses some of his prodigious 2 tenths, he is well within striking range for Max Verstappen.

    3. “Lewis was struggling quite a bit until Sunday.”

      Where was he struggling?

  4. They would be in contention if only Max would have a more equal car. At the moment he’s still only really able to win in freak weahther conditions. Yes he got pole position this time, but you only have to look at Bottas’ lap to see Mercedes in fact gave it away.

    1. Can’t wait to see how his composure holds up when he is in contention for the WDC. His ‘I am happy with second place’ attitude seems a bit media trained.

      1. Media trained, you think so? He didn’t look like that at all. He was making jokes and having a good time after the race.

        When your opponent has superior machinery, there’s only so much you can do.

      2. I’m sure Max will still be extremely composed and focused once he has a WCC car capable of helping him get a WDC.

        1. That’s probably until Ocon gets a seat in a merc. Then surely push will come to shove.

  5. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    6th August 2019, 9:07

    Verstappen is the perfect example of how to grow the right way in Formula 1. The way he held is composure when Hamilton tried to dart around the outside of T4/5 earlier in the race was beautiful. Verstappen also knew when to bail out of a fight. He didn’t chop across the track when Hamilton blew past him with three laps to go. The ‘old’ Verstappen pre-Monaco 2018 would’ve done that. Max has such a bright future and I think, today he perfectly showcased risk-reward. Knowing when to bail out of fights he can’t win. Very Alonso like. Lewis as always delivered the goods.

    1. “Verstappen also knew when to bail out of a fight”

      Well he didn’t do so in Brazil

    2. Like.

      Make no mistake, Max is a hell of a driver and without doubt, has learnt yo only get points if you finish. He is still the same driver but without being an idiot.

      He reminds me lol, of Tom Cruise’s Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder. You can be the fastest, badass driver driving in one way, or be exactly the same driver and driver another way and actually finish the race.

      I really didn’t take a liking to Max at the beginning with his, frankly disrespect to everything in F1. Now he is a damn fine racing driver and I cannot wait for him to be at the top. I’m still not sure that will be in a Red Bull. I know he is still very young, but I cannot help but think we need him in a championship winning car right now.

  6. It was interesting to see Hamilton tip toe around Verstappen in a way he just wouldn’t against Vettel. When Hamilton goes up against Vettel he positions his car with a confidence that seems he’s sure he’s going to get a pass made. Russia last year for instance, or any one of the times Vettel has spun while wheel to wheel.

    With Verstappen though he was very cautious, maybe in part because he knows Verstappen won’t be forced into an error, and maybe also because Verstappen has built a reputation for allowing contact to happen which Hamilton can’t risk.

    Whatever the case it was a genuinely exciting battle, the final pass itself wasn’t important, they fought all race even while 20 seconds apart trading lap times until Hamilton had him beat.

    People who were disappointed that the final pass wasn’t that dramatic miss the point that they were still really fighting each other despite being 20 seconds apart on the road. This race was thrilling.

    1. @philipgb

      Agree that he was probably aware of how Verstappen has been known to defend agressively in the past. But he would also have been aware of how little grip that Red Bull’s tyres still had left in them.
      The last thing he would have wanted was to overtake closely and as they turned the corner, Verstappen’s tyres struggle to bring the car around as tight as expected and he slides into the side of the Merc.

      By taking so wide a berth around Verstappen at the corner, Hamilton ensured that he left enough room to deal with agressive defence from Verstappen, but gave him enough time to deal with a Red Bull sliding on the corner, especially considering how twitchy the car was getting as Verstappen sought the remnants of his grip. Plus with his younger tyres, he’d know that he could get the power down out of the corner earlier, so a wider line didn’t inconvinience him too much.

      The lack of agressive defence from Verstappen also suggests he knew he didn’t have the grip to defend in such a manner.

      1. @nikkit

        Good points. Hamilton himself will know how a bit of a low grip slide into a nudge can be used to defend a corner for example USA 2015

        1. Yeah Max was just a sitting duck and everyone knew it. No point trying to defend with those old tires vs not just much newer tires but also of a softer grippier compound, not to mention Mercedes are the WCC car. This was not the time or place for a duel.

  7. F1oSaurus (@)
    6th August 2019, 21:00

    I wonder if Hamilton meant that he’s simply picking up the points and doesn’t want to take any risks anymore. He must know that actually only Verstappen and Bottas are really in a small way still in contention for the WDC.

    Although with all the fast tracks upcoming, perhaps Ferrari can make a comeback. Still, they are all massively behind Hamilton right now.

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