Max Verstappen has had some fun at Lewis Hamilton’s expense, joking that the seven-time champion has finally learned how to hit an apex a year on from their controversial clash.
The 2021 Formula 1 title fight between Verstappen and Hamilton was one for the ages, the pair finding themselves constantly at loggerheads.
Tensions had begun increasing in the lead-up to last year’s British Grand Prix and eventually came to a head at Silverstone.
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Contact on the opening lap at Copse between the protagonists sent Verstappen into a high-speed spin, suffering a 51G impact with the tire wall.
Hamilton, meanwhile, carried on unabated and copped a penalty for the incident – which ultimately wasn’t enough to stop him winning the race.
Many questioned at the time how much room the Mercedes pilot gave his Red Bull rival, having not pointed his car at the apex.
A year on, Hamilton found himself in a similar position at the same circuit, this time with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
On that occasion, Hamilton made the apex and both cars safely navigated the turn.
“Charles did a great job, what a great battle,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 post-breed.
“He is a very sensitive driver, clearly a lot different to what I experienced last year,” he said, referencing the Verstappen tangle.
“At Copse for example, the two of us went through there with no problem. What a battle. Really, really amazing weekend.”
That prompted a cheeky response from Verstappen, who in the build-up to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix joked that Hamilton was still learning.
“I think it’s quite nice that, at 37 years of age, you can still learn how to hit an apex,” he joked, speaking with Dutch media on Thursday.
“He is learning, so that is positive. It is also good for younger drivers to know that you are still learning when you are 37 years old.”
Asked what he thought of Hamilton’s comments, Verstappen replied, “[It’s] good that he has found the apex now”.
“You can clearly see in the footage what was different compared to last year. I think Charles gave him less space than I did last year, so that says it all. And in the end, [Lewis] was the one who got penalized last year, so there’s no point talking about that either.”
The war between Hamilton and Verstappen played out through the media and on-track throughout 2021.
The pair came to blows at Imola, Monza, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia before the chaotic finale in Abu Dhabi which decided the title in unprecedented circumstances on the final lap.
The pair have had little to say about each other this year, however, as Mercedes struggles to match the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.
Verstappen is gunning for his second title and commands proceedings with 181 points to his name over teammate Sergio Perez on 147 points. Hamilton, meanwhile, only has 93 to his name in sixth.
While the Dutchman said Hamilton’s comments were “a bit blunt” they wouldn’t have an affect on his performance.
“I just have to concentrate on what we’re doing here,” Verstappen said.
“I think we’re doing pretty well this year. That’s what I’m concentrating on.”
FP1 at the Austrian Grand Prix gets underway tonight at 9.30pm9
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