Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Hamilton: Verstappen “feels he has a lot to prove” in title fight

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton believes he will be able to avoid any collisions with Max Verstappen as he is playing the long game in the world championship fight.

The pair have fought wheel-to-wheel in all four races so far this year. Hamilton backed down when Verstappen moved to pass him at the start of the previous race in Spain, but beat his rival to victory.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown recently said it is only a matter of time until the pair tangle. But Hamilton says his focus on the long-term goal of winning the championship makes that unlikely.

“I think I’ve done well to avoid all the incidents so far,” said Hamilton. “We’ve got 19 more [races] to go and we could connect, hopefully not.

“The good thing, I think, there is a nice balanced amount of respect between us. I think perhaps, as you know, he feels perhaps he has a lot to prove. I’m not necessarily in the same boat there.”

Hamilton, who scored his 100th pole position in the previous round and is seeking a record-breaking eighth world championship this year, says his record speaks for his approach.

“I’m more long term, kind of, ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’ sort of mentality. Which is ultimately why I have the stats that I have. So I’ll continue with that and I’ll do everything to make sure that we avoid connecting.”

Hamilton beat Verstappen to win the last Monaco Grand Prix, held two years ago. He expects stiff opposition from Red Bull again this year.

“We don’t know what to expect,” he said. “Red Bull were incredibly close two years ago.

“It’s a much different car, we have different tyres. Red Bull are going to be very, very hard to beat this weekend. This is a track that has always been strong for them and, given how close the gap is between us, you can imagine this weekend they could be ahead.

“But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that’s not the case.”

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Dieter Rencken
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38 comments on “Hamilton: Verstappen “feels he has a lot to prove” in title fight”

  1. Lewis’s point makes perfect sense. But it feels like precisely the kind of comment someone makes before the inevitable opposite happens…

    1. (Zak Brown mind games)

      1. Zak Brown has his voodoo Merc and RedBull bashing wheels and pulling off to the side of the track. Triggering a perfectly timed safety car for his heroes in Orange!

        1. @geekzilla9000 I can picture him now chuckling evilly in his trailer with a toy Mercedes and a toy Red Bull :oP
          He knew very well throwing out the idea of a collision would mean Max and Lewis get asked about this before the race, generating further speculation on the possibility and putting that little devilish idea in the head of one or the other of them. Sneaky.

          1. Ahah, that’s an interesting one.

          2. @esploratore I am just joking of course! I like Zak Brown and his attitude a lot.

      2. ‘Zac Brown? Who’s Zac Brown?’ Lewis Hamilton.

  2. Well, it’s easier to avoid a clash when you’re in the faster car. I doubt he will do the same when he’s the one chasing a faster car.

    1. Or when there is only so many races left to make up a defecit, indeed @montalvo – as Brown mentioned, unless one of them runs away with it soon, it is only a matter of time before the pressure mounts and they both feel they cannot lose out this time. Or feel it was unfair in some way. And it goes bang.

    2. @montalvo Red Bull is the faster car. Just like Ferrari were in 17,18 and 19.

    3. @montalvo

      I agree. It’s easier to pick your fights when you have the option to do so. Lewis can sit back and always have other moments in the race where he can pick the right fight. Max, doesn’t usually get that option, because the Red Bull just isn’t as fast as the Mercedes on Sundays. He gets one opportunity, and he has to go for it.

      I feel Lewis is acting like he’s taking the higher ground in this championship battle, by avoiding clashes, but without mentioning that he has the advantage to do so and still win.

  3. This is the new: ‘ This is the best crowd in the world’

    1. It’s a fun phrase he used, but didn’t understand in what means you say it’s the new “best crowd”.

  4. Mind games aplenty. This is looking to be an exciting season. Lewis feels the need to poke at Verstappen like this, and we know the Dutchman will react. Lewis definitely has the upper hand for now, both mentally and in the points, but I’m eager to see what happens going forward.

    1. True enough, it is a bit of a tell that the pressure IS on, right @chrischrill

    2. Does he? I would be surprised if |Max even react on this. Max is hardly pressed maybe at the last fopur races when it’s close but not now.

    3. we know the Dutchman will react.

      On the contrary, I’ve been impressed by the lack of reaction from Verstappen to Hamilton’s mind games

      1. Thats because he got more mind games in his training than Lewis can ever imagine. Max survived his childhood by being slightly ignorant to this kind of methods. What people dont understand well enough is that Max just wants to race. He is fairly Seb and Kimi like when it comes to the circus around it. He doesnt care, its a side effect. He is there to race. Lewis loves the attention and needs it. It is Lewis who has something to prove apparently as he is ramping up to his Rosberg tactics of dirty games and doing the talking off track rather than on track. I have always loved Lewis the driver, but am absolutely not keen on his personality off track. He resides to shady tactics and frankly I see it as a weakness or at least an insecurity. But this is also something to celebrate. Since it means Max got under Lewis’ skin. We could see it in Italy. As soon as Lewis is on the back foot he starts making mistakes. Luckily for Lewis he still has the dominant car this year. But if RB can get ahead just a few races we’ll see more and more errors from Hamilton. Similar story with some of Lewis’ fans on this site. They keep referring to Max whenever they can, even if not relevant. So they see it too. Lewis is one of the all time greats and we sure could use a new contender up there. Our alternative is borefest again. So enjoy Max and the effect he has on Hamilton. Finally someone does.

    4. Au contraire, that Lewis already feels the need to play mind games indicates to me he doesn’t feel he has the upper hand mentally

      1. I didnt expect him to do it this soon either. So he sees something there that makes him reside to this, on top of his stellar (by the way) driving. But he is predictable ever since Rosberg. Max we dont know. I suspect him to be ignoring it, but maybe he has a limit too. And Marko, Marko can probably learn from Max. I see Marko rather fuse the situation than Max feeling the need to respond. Lets see..

  5. Mind games!

    Verstappen should feel content. If your opponent makes such comments, be happy that you have got under his skin.

  6. The dutchman will respond:
    – As I already said before, I have nothing to prove. I just extract everything from the car and achieve the maximum possible result.

    That’s approximately what he responded when they asked if he is concerned about RBRs performance.

    But of course, he will retaliate on the track by winning the GP (if he doesn’t pin it on the wall like many times before).

  7. I don’t think this is mind games on LH’s part, for he is only saying something Max and everyone would agree on. But as well, I’m sure if Max were to hear LH’s words, in his mind he’d be thinking it’s easier to prove a lot when you have the WCC car, and even moreso when it is utterly dominant. Easier to play the long game when you have quite a bit of assurance season after season that the car will be there for you all season. It’s interesting too, that when Max was asked early on if he felt or would feel more pressure this year with a more competitive car, he said (paraphrasing) no because that’s what a driver needs and wants and is what makes life easier on the track. Oh I’m sure he’d feel tremendous pressure as would LH if the season went down to the last race between them, but that’s a different pressure than the type I have cited Max spoke about a few months ago.

    I think Max has already proved his ability, and there’s room to grow for him there too, and what he really needs is what all WDCs need…the WCC car.

    1. In Lewis’s hands the Red Bull would be the WCC car. Max needs to try harder.

      1. @greenflag Lol under what circumstances? Surely you don’t think LH could just sit in that car and it instantly becomes the WCC car. If you do, you’re dreaming in technicolour. But as I said above, this is the luxury LH has. It is much easier to prove lots when you have the WCC car, let alone an utterly dominant one much of the time. LH has had going on 8 seasons of dominance to put that idea in your head. Max has had 4 races in what may still not be the WCC car. That is not said to take anything away from LH. That’s just reality. Let’s give Max even one WDC in one WCC car, and then he get’s elevated by some to that same stature you’d claim for LH, of being able to take a car and win with it. But would you say the same thing about LH if put in last year’s RBR? No, because even you would acknowledge how important it is to have the WCC car, and how vastly skewed the stats are that back that up for almost all WDCs in F1’s history. When the rare WDC didn’t have the WCC car it was a very close second place car, and may have had something to do with a lagging teammate not garnering as many WCC points. The only reason you’re even suggesting what you have is because at least the RBR is a much closer car now, and you know LH would at least need that, and of course time with the car and team. Since we’re playing, shall we just swap careers and see where Max’s numbers would be, knowing his obvious racecraft, after 7+ years of the WCC car, and often an utterly dominant one?

        1. You’ve truly drank the Max Koolaid undiluted. Wait until the pressure really gets to him later in the season.

          1. @greenflag And you didn’t answer my question as to under what circumstances, so it sounds like you have drank the LH koolaid. As to pressure on Max, either Merc will end up dominating again and there won’t be much, or it will remain a see-saw battle, as it doesn’t feel like Max will have the luxury of a dominant car, and yeah then we’ll see how Max does pressure wise. I’m confident he’ll be rock solid under pressure, and for sure whatever happens will only add to his experience in this first season of him having at least what appears will be a consistently competitive car.

      2. @robbie @greenflag Or if another driver, good but not outstanding, were driving the non-Bottas-driven Mercedes, the Red Bull would probably be the WCC car. Or put otherwise, the difference between the cars is within the window where the drivers make a difference. That’s more or less self-evident from where Max is in the championship table ahead of VB. As Green Flag indicates, we can’t actually know if Max is maxing out the Red Bull. Maybe. But maybe not. (Same goes for Hamilton in the Mercedes obviously). We do know VB and Perez aren’t the best it gets.

        1. @david-br I don’t disagree but let’s be clear that VB is on his 5th season in this beast of a car on this beast of a team like LH is but with far more experience, and Max, while engrained on the team, is only 4 races into the experience of competing regularly at this level, and SP has had 4 races with the team total. Is SP helping advance the car right now? Is VB at least potentially providing input that has helped? Ultimately it takes a season to decide the WCC car, and then we see why, and whether or not it just came down to what the secondary drivers did. I just hesitate to heap on the ‘equivalency’ thing quite yet, because that seems to me like out of convenience some are erasing LH’s and Merc’s vast experience at winning and dominating, and suddenly Max is somehow dropping the ball. The same blokes that would pound their chest at the local pub about the virtues of LH, suddenly think Max should be beating him because of a car that only at times has shown itself to be faster, but not regularly, let alone dominantly, and over 4 mere races. Because LH would? Lol.

      3. I think that’s a bold claim that hamilton would win the constructor with the red bull, like the 2nd driver’s performance doesn’t matter? Remember hamilton won the driver’s title in 2008 and lost the constructor’s, because his team mate wasn’t worthy of a top team, while ferrari drivers were.

        1. A driver never wins the constructor’s championship; he can only win the driver’s championship.

          1. @greenflag Sounds like you are unaware the Constructor points are from the addition of what a teams two drivers accumulate over the season in the WDC standings.

        2. TBF he did win the constructors last year on his own. 347-319.

  8. Relax! RBR’s too fexible/flappy front wing, won’t work on this circuit in Monaco!

  9. If Max and Checo are 1-2 that would make the championship really trilling.

    1. Yes, but not very realistic, I think it’s already a lot if verstappen manages a pole or at least a first corner lead, perez is historically a bad qualifier and a bad qualifying ruins your race here, it’s the only track where you don’t pass even with drs.

  10. It must be nice for Max to know, that he took permanent residence in Lewis’ head.
    All Max and RB have to do is push on the weak spot and it will eventually give way!

  11. Pff, all the comments for and against this and that.. people drawing conclusions about mental games and who is in whose head… Don’t forget people, the drivers were asked these questions. They just answer them. This time the question is about whether they will crash or not.

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