Hamilton: Latest Verstappen clash shows I am a “target”

Formula 1

The Mercedes driver and his Red Bull rival made contact after the early safety car restart at Interlagos, which had been triggered by the opening-lap collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen.

Verstappen, who was running in third at the time behind Hamilton, attempted to go around the outside of his rival at Turn 1 and claim the inside apex for the Turn 2 right hander.

However, he was left with little room and they made contact at the bottom of the Senna Esses. Verstappen broke his front wing while Hamilton, who was forced wide, suffered damage to his floor and wheel covers.

The FIA said Verstappen was predominantly to blame for the accident and he was given a five-second penalty.

Explained: Why Verstappen was penalised for clashing with Hamilton in Brazilian GP

With Hamilton and Verstappen having come to blows several times throughout their 2021 title battle, the latest incident has again prompted suggestions that they race each other differently to other drivers.

Asked if he had any concerns about Verstappen having a specific problem with him, Hamilton said: “I’m not concerned. Yeah, don’t have any concerns, I think.

“I think it’s natural when you have the success and the numbers on your chest, that you become a bit of a target. But it’s okay. It’s nothing that I have not dealt with before.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, collides with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, collides with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Hamilton said he did not have any particular thoughts about the accident at the time, as his mindset was simply in being able to continue and recover through the field.

“I don’t really have much of an opinion about it, to be honest,” he said about the accident.

“All I thought in that moment was that I thought the car would have to retire because I felt something, the rear wasn’t feeling the same after that.

“For me, it was like, I was going to lose the team the 1-2 – that’s all I could think of.

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“So I was driving over across the grass, back onto the track and all I could think of was how can I get back to giving the team that incredible result. So just for me, it’s kind of, again, not how you fall, it’s how you get back up. And I’m proud of the job we’ve all done.”

Hamilton eventually recovered to finish second behind team-mate George Russell, who took his maiden F1 victory.




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