Max Verstappen has distanced himself from the mind games being played by Lewis Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix. The Red Bull Racing driver, who is leading the Mercedes driver in the championship by 12 points, has brushed off any suggestions that he is feeling added pressure in the title race.
The verbal games began with Toto Wolff not ruling out on-track contact like in the ‘Senna-Prost’ days to settle the championship battle. But both the title rivals – Verstappen and Hamilton – have dismissed that as an option going into the final races of the campaign.
On Thursday, Hamilton began his mind games suggesting that the Dutch racer could feel added pressure as he is fighting for his first Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship. The seven-time world champion is aware that Mexico is a Red Bull stronghold and wants to ensure he can extract any advantage possible – both on track and off it.
“I know Max has not won a championship in a long, long, long time, so I know what it’s like going for your first championship, particularly in this sport, I know the pressures that come with that, and so it’s nothing less than I expected from him,” Hamilton said, as quoted on F1.com.
Verstappen was quick to respond to his title rivals comments, stating: “I like what I’m doing, you know? So that takes the pressure off. It’s not the first time I’ve been in a championship fight, yes [it’s the] first time in F1 but not in my life so that doesn’t really change because you need to win, and that’s what I’ve been doing in the past as well so I need to strive to do the same here.”
Mexico’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is Verstappen territory, with the Red Bull star having won two of the last three Grands Prix at the venue. The Dutchman only missed out on pole in 2019 owing to a qualifying penalty and will be favourite again going into this weekend’s race.
Hamilton is aware that he needs to try everything to stop Verstappen from extending his 12-point advantage in the championship. The first practice session for the Mexican Grand Prix gets underway on Friday.