AUSTIN, Texas — Max Verstappen believes he has got in the heads of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel after the two drivers revealed they treat him differently when racing on track.
Verstappen was the centre of attention at the last round in Mexico after ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, resulting in him losing pole position, and then colliding with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the race. A puncture from the second of those collisions saw him drop to the back of the field and finish sixth in a race he could have won.
After the race, Hamilton was asked about what it’s like to race against Verstappen and said “it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space”, adding “he’s a magnet for those kind of things”.
Vettel answered the same question with “copy and paste” in reference to Hamilton’s answer.
Those quotes were put to Verstappen on Thursday ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix and he responded: “It was a bit of a silly comment [for Hamilton] to make because I think I’m always a hard racer but fair. I think it’s just not correct.
“But of course it’s easy to have a dig at someone. From my side, it’s fine. I think it’s always positive when they talk about you, because that means you’re in their heads. From my side, I just focus on my driving. I think that’s enough said.”
Asked if he felt unfairly treated by his rival drivers, he added: “I think from my side, it only shows that I’m in their heads. I guess that’s a good thing.
“From my side, I don’t need to dig into other people in a press conference. First of all, I think it’s a bit disrespectful as well, and I prefer to fight on-track which I love to do. Of course I like to fight hard, but on the edge, otherwise if they want me to stay behind, it’s also better to stay at home.
“I really want to take the fight to them, because that’s what we are here for. We are racers, we are in Formula One, I think we are the best out there. We do fight for victories, because that’s what I live for.”