Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton says ‘it’s natural’ for Max Verstappen to target him

Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton says ‘it’s natural’ for Max Verstappen to target him

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashed in last weekend’s Sao Paulo GP; the pair collided on the track several times last season during their intense title battle; watch the Abu Dhabi GP all weekend live on Sky Sports F1 – with the race at 1pm on Sunday

Last Updated: 17/11/22 6:44pm


Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton says ‘it’s natural’ for Max Verstappen to target him

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Lewis Hamilton agrees it is ‘natural’ for Max Verstappen to fight him harder because he is the most successful driver and believes Mercedes have learnt so much this year due to their under-performing car

Lewis Hamilton agrees it is ‘natural’ for Max Verstappen to fight him harder because he is the most successful driver and believes Mercedes have learnt so much this year due to their under-performing car

Lewis Hamilton says his status at the top of Formula 1 makes it “natural” that Max Verstappen drives more aggressively against him than other competitors.

Verstappen triumphed in a thrilling world championship battle with Hamilton last season to claim his maiden title after several collisions with the seven-time world champion during a fractious 2021 campaign.

Red Bull’s dominance and Mercedes’ lack of pace this year have led to a lack of encounters on track for the rivals in 2022, but with the Silver Arrows finally catching up in recent weeks, Verstappen and Hamilton clashed in last weekend’s Sao Paulo GP, with the Dutchman receiving a five-second penalty for causing the collision.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi ahead of this weekend’s season finale, at the scene of the hugely-controversial victory that secured Verstappen the title last year, Hamilton was asked if he expects the rivalry to continue to throw up controversial moments.

He replied: “Most likely. I think I’ll adapt.

“You’ve seen in previous years that I try to avoid [contact] in scenarios.

Verstappen and Hamilton collide at the Sao Paulo GP after the race restarted following the Safety Car

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Verstappen and Hamilton collide at the Sao Paulo GP after the race restarted following the Safety Car

Verstappen and Hamilton collide at the Sao Paulo GP after the race restarted following the Safety Car

“I’m sure we’ll grow, both sides will grow and improve hopefully so we don’t have experiences like we did in the last race, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

Hamilton was then asked in a follow-up question if he thinks the reason for Verstappen’s particularly aggressive driving style against him is because of his status as the sport’s most successful driver of all time.

The 37-year-old smiled, before replying: “I think yeah, you’re probably right.

“I remember when I first got to the sport and your target is the guy that has the most championships. It was Fernando (Alonso), then it was Kimi (Raikkonen), because Kimi was one of the best drivers here, and then it was Seb (Vettel), so I think it’s natural.”

Hamilton does not think about last season's Abu Dhabi GP and is not focused on stuff behind him

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Hamilton does not think about last season’s Abu Dhabi GP and is not focused on stuff behind him

Hamilton does not think about last season’s Abu Dhabi GP and is not focused on stuff behind him

Hamilton also revealed the only time he had an “in-depth” conversation with Verstappen was when he attempted to persuade him to take a knee alongside him to support the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, which the Dutchman chose not to.

“I don’t think there’s anything deeper in the background, because we’ve never really had an in-depth conversation,” Hamilton said.

“The only time we’ve had an in-depth conversation actually was when in 2020 in Austria when I went to him to speak to him about what Black Lives Matter meant and how much it would mean if he were to support that.

“I tried to explain what it feels like and why we were fighting, and what it’s about. Obviously, it didn’t make a difference.”

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