Hamilton and Verstappen trust each other to keep it clean after third scrap in three races

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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The mutual respect between championship leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen remains high after they fought each other on-track for the third time in as many races yesterday.

The pair swapped positions twice in the course of the Portuguese Grand Prix, which Hamilton won ahead of Verstappen.

Hamilton came out on top in the first encounter between the pair in Bahrain, while Verstappen won at Imola after muscling his rival aside at the first corner. In yesterday’s race the Red Bull driver passed Hamilton at a restart, but the Mercedes got back ahead a few laps later.

Hamilton said he has enjoyed the tough yet clean fights between the pair so far this year.

“It is naturally down to respect,” he said. “I think [we’re] both very, very hard but fair and that’s what makes great racing and great racing drivers.

“I think we will continue to keep it clean and keep it on the edge but I don’t think either of us has a plan to get any closer than we have been.”

Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by eight points at the top of the standings after yesterday’s race, said the fights between the pair have been been “really cool” so far.

“Especially when you race a driver, when you know that you can go to the absolute limit, I guess you can trust each other to just race super-hard,” he said. “That’s always really nice because you can see in the three races we’ve had it’s been really close to each other but predictable.

“Lewis has never had something like ‘oh, we’re going to crash’ or something. I always have full trust in Lewis that we all give each other enough space.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Hamilton and Verstappen trust each other to keep it clean after third scrap in three races”

  1. Davethechicken
    3rd May 2021, 7:46

    If it remains close all season, it is only matter of time until the clean battles go out the window.
    One if them will crack if the pressure is on and I for one am looking forward to that! Should be great viewing for the fans.

    1. True that. I think right now it’s hard but clean..probably because it’s still early in the season and they’re both within striking distance. But once desparation kicks in and getting a win has far more importance.. I’d expect the gloves to come off, both on the track, and off it. There is a no such thing as a fierce by healthy rivalry.

  2. I think this being able to really have a fight on centimeter level is something they both missed in F1, since they were up to less skillful drivers until know, each in their own bubble (of car capability, i.e. not meeting eachother that often and Lewis not meeting anyone at all during a race, except maybe his team mate who is a push over) Some of the earlier (first years) VER incidents were down to him battling drivers that just cant be this close since they understand less of the physics and are less capable of controlling it, both on skill level but moreover mentally. I am sure lots of people will say it was VER inexperience that caused some incidents, but I do not agree for the majority of the incidents. Sure he made mistakes he is accountable for but more were because the others just cant drive this close and keep their cool. He just needs better opponents that meet him at that level to subsequently have a good fight. Exactly the same goes for Lewis. Bottas and Vettel are two perfect examples of not having such skills. Fast drivers but less so in traffic.

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  3. *fierce but healthy

  4. Both drivers have missed worthy opponents. Lots of drivers around that are fast on an empty track, not many that still have skill and mental capability when racing at centimeter level. Hamilton hasnt had it since he was just fighting a team mate for years while all others were far behind. Max has had plenty of fights but with others where you ‘have to keep in mind the limitations of the one you are overtaking’. Often when people thought Max was at fault you could see that it wouldnt have happened if his opponent was a better driver. The audience then blamed Max but thats because we got used to mediocre moves and processional racing because we lacked talent. I know it is impossible to get 20 Senna, Hamilton, Schumacher etc on the grid but I do feel we should raise the entry bar for F1.

  5. Racing incidents happen, that’s a given, but as long as neither maliciously tries to Schumi the other out of the race I think it’s all fair game.

    Just the fact we’ve seen the two have on-track battles in all three races so far has made all the difference between this season and any season since 2014. Not just the on-track battles, but every lap is interesting now just to see what the gaps are, or who goes in the pits first and what that means tactically, it’s infinitely more enjoyable.

  6. RP (@slotopen)
    3rd May 2021, 12:35

    Even if this isn’t nonsense it won’t last.

    First, Verstappen isn’t known for his clean driving. He pushes the rules and occasionally steps over them. He hasn’t hit Hamilton or anything and has been penalized for things, so Hamilton has benefited. I doubt that will last.

    Second, conventional wisdom is Rosberg beat Hamilton by getting inside his head, along with an engine failure. I expect Verstappen will do the same.

    I get the impression that Hamilton is a people person, and wants to be the good guy. I think Verstappen could use that to his advantage.

    1. conventional wisdom is Rosberg beat Hamilton by getting inside his head..

      Except that “conventional wisdom” isn’t so wise. I have been looking for anyone to give me an example of how Rosberg got into Lewis’s head in the 2016 season, but so far been unsuccessful.

      Of course, all the evidence points to the opposite. Not only was Rosberg desperate enough go hit his opponent twice on the track, he had to resort to cheating to retain pole position at one track.

      And to nail his psychological defeat, he had to retire at the end of that season because he was psychologically burnt out.

      If anyone got into anyone’s head in 2016, it certainly wasn’t Nico Rosberg.

      If this is Verstappen’s plan, he’d better recruit Mercedes Benz to give Hamilton 7 engine related issues that makes him start from the back or midfield, make sure he misses 3 qualifying sessions, make sure to hit him twice on track, cheat for pole position, then make sure he doesn’t finish a race whilst leading.

      Then he may have the same chance that Rosberg had.

      1. Indeed, I’m not certainly in the “hamilton is a god” brigade, but I think the 2016 season only reflects well on hamilton with how close he got with all issues he had.

    2. No conventional wisdom can work against lewis he is more grounded than you think

    3. In the mental game Lewis will certainly not win. He needs the game to win, Max doesnt. Then the question remains who is susceptible for mind games. Lewis is and Max isnt. So, good luck with that Lewis. The difference is twofold: first of all Max isnt interested in anything else but driving and winning. Lewis needs the environment of F1 too, from going for a good cause to posting on Instagram to profiling himself being an artist etc etc.. the star life. Max? He is more of a Kimi. He is here to race. The rest can go.. etc . Secondly, nobody is going to mentally influence Max more than his dad already has. As Max said before: there is nothing you can throw at me which my father hasnt done already.

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