The Mercedes driver labeled the 20-year-old Red Bull Racing star immature after the duo collided in the opening laps of the race at the Sakhir Circuit on April 8. The former suffered no damage to his car and went on to finish in third place, while the latter suffered a left rear puncture and damage to his diffuser and retired from the race two laps after the accident.
Hamilton used the term “d—head” when he was viewing the footage after the race and later advised Verstappen to show more respect to his fellow drivers. The Dutch driver, on the other hand, initially blamed four-time Formula 1 Drivers’ world champion for the incident and seemed annoyed as the race stewards did not penalize him for his actions.
Replays of the incident showed that Verstappen was more at fault despite being given the room to pull off the overtaking maneuver which caused the collision. Hamilton stuck to his opinion, but the Red Bull driver accused the Briton of taking the easy route and blaming the younger inexperienced driver while deeming it a racing incident when questioned Thursday during the driver’s press conference in China.
Despite the war of words between the two, they seemed cordial when they met in the paddock ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton revealed that he had apologized to Verstappen and made it clear that the incident is now in the past. The Briton is hopeful that his actions will bode well for the future as they are certain to come up against each other on more than a few occasions during the course of the season.
“I generally do my talking on the track. Obviously after this incident I didn’t, but I just saw Max now,” Hamilton said Thursday, as quoted by Sky Sports F1. “It’s always good to show respect and being that I’m the older driver, I felt it was important that I went to him. So just as we were signing just now I shook his hand and I was like ‘look, I’m sorry about the last race’. Regardless of whether it is his fault or my fault, it doesn’t really matter. It’s in the past.”
“Hopefully that sign of respect shows a lot and helps you move forwards racing each other. Hopefully it keeps respect between you because I think it’s important between drivers,” the four-time world champion added.
Hamilton, meanwhile, is likely to be focusing on getting back to winning ways with the reigning champion yet to win a race this season. F1 drivers title rival Sebastian Vettel has claimed victory in the opening two rounds of the season and has opened up a 17-point gap in the championship standings.
Mercedes, however, will arrive in China as the favorites and Ferrari and Red Bull will be aware of their rivals’ record at this circuit. Hamilton has won at the Shanghai International Circuit a record five times, while the Silver Arrows team have lost the race just once in the last six years.