If you were watching the post-race discussion in the drivers’ room, then you most likely heard Lewis Hamilton call Max Verstappen a “dickhead”. Hamilton happened to look at the monitor screen right when it showed the clash between he and Verstappen and voiced his opinion.
Lewis wasn’t happy with the move saying:
“Ultimately, I had a coming together with Max and it was an unnecessary collision,” said Hamilton.
“There needs to be a certain respect between drivers. I need to watch it again, but it didn’t feel like a respectful move.
“It was a silly move for him because he didn’t finish the race and obviously he’s tending to make quite a few mistakes recently.
“It was just unnecessary for him to do that. I can’t really remember what point of the race it was or why we were in that position, but I don’t really care to be honest.”
Max has had his share of “moments” with other drivers over the last couple of seasons and his aggressive style means that he’ll take every opportunity if there is daylight ahead of him. That’s his style—very aggressive and pushing the limit.
For Verstappen, the incident looked a little different:
“I had a good run out of the last corner and went for the inside,” he said.
“Lewis was trying to go around the outside and at one point I was ahead.
“I think there was still enough space on the left but I got a touch on the left rear and it destroyed my diff.”
Objectively, Max is aggressive and there have been a few moves that had the earmark of a young, brilliantly talented driver who is honing his race craft. Max entered the sport with an attitude that his race craft was as solid as those of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton but they aren’t. They wouldn’t be for any driver in just his second or third season in the big league.
That’s nothing to do with Max but more to do with the experience. A young driver such as Stroll, Ocon or Leclerc hasn’t been in all the situations and permutations that Formula 1 can present a driver with. It takes time to learn how to drive amongst a herd of other F1 drivers and there is respect and a code of ethics that the veterans try to race by.
Having said that, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, and Raikkonen have all been there. They’ve made the over-aggressive mistakes and moves that were never going to pan out. They sometimes still do but they are rarer than before. They are also all as aggressive as Max is and that’s what makes them champions and what could make Max a champion in waiting. I think Max was being a bit over confident and aggressive with the move but I liked the fact that he took it and tried to make something happen for himself. It is the exact same thing Hamilton did when he first arrived and he did it to his teammate, Fernando Alonso while at McLaren. Vettel did it with his teammate, Mark Webber, and Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton had an unlikely defender regarding his “dickhead” comment in the form of Sebastian Vettel who interrupted the Q&A for Hamilton when he said:
“Can I answer that?” Vettel said. “It’s not fair – I don’t know what Lewis did, we’ve all been in that situation.
“We fight someone and sometimes we go wheel-to-wheel, and it’s close, and we have a lot of adrenaline going.
“Do you think, if you compare it to football, if you have a microphone on a footballer’s mouth that everything he says is something nice, and it’s a nice message when the guy tackles him and sometimes he fouls him?
“I don’t think it’s justified to give us this kind of shit question and making up a story out of nothing.”
Vettel said it was normal for a driver to react emotionally in high-pressure situations.
“We are just racing, we are full of adrenaline and we say these things,” he added.
“If I hit you in your face, you are not going to tell me, ‘Sebastian, that wasn’t nice’.
“It’s a human reaction, and sometimes I feel it’s all a bit blown up and artificial if we have these questions trying to make something out of nothing.”
To be fair, that’s perfectly true to. In the heat of the battle, these drivers aren’t friends and Vettel has been on the receiving end of Max’s aggression a time or two to prove it. Vettel has also been called out for comments he’s made in the press as well as Hamilton.
Was it a good move? I’ll let you be the judge.