Lewis Hamilton says there is no animosity between him and Max Verstappen despite having an intense battle for the 2021 Formula 1 title. The Briton goes on to suggest that the two rivals have a “lot in common” in terms of their approach, but is hoping that despite their on-track clashes there can be respect between the two.
The Mercedes driver and the Red Bull ace had a battle for the ages in 2021 as they went head to head for the world championship. The battle was littered with on-track collisions, off-track mind games and plenty of incidents as Verstappen edged out Hamilton to claim his maiden F1 title in contentious fashion at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton disappeared from public view in the aftermath of the 2021 season, but has returned in 2022 motivated to reclaim his title. He made it clear that he has nothing against Verstappen, having absolved the Dutch racer of any wrongdoing during the Abu Dhabi GP controversy.
“Me and Max, we see each other in the paddock, and things are normal,” Lewis told Sky Sports F1’s Naomi Schiff. “We’re two individual drivers.”
“We have a lot of common in a sense of how much we love doing what we do and driving, then on the other side we’re ruthless. He is ruthless, [as] I am,” he added. “That’s what you have to be in, I would imagine business, but hopefully with a bit of compassion.”
Hamilton and Verstappen collided three times on-track last season – at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia – and any relationship between Mercedes and Red Bull Racing was non-existent. However, despite their on-track rivalry, the seven-time champion is hoping that the respect between the two remains intact.
“We are fighters out there, there’s no friends on track. It’s like when you go skiing, there’s no friends out there,” he added. “Some days we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. But I think what’s really important is that we’re human beings and that we do keep respect.”
The 2022 season, however, has not started according to plan for Hamilton and Mercedes with the Silver Arrows well behind their 2021 rivals in terms of speed. Ferrari won the race in Bahrain, while the Red Bull cars were forced to retire, but the two teams are well ahead of the reigning Constructors’ champions going into the second race in Saudi Arabia this weekend.