Following a Mexican GP where Verstappen made first-lap contact with Hamilton, before sustaining a puncture clashing with Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel both admitted they gave the Dutchman “extra space” to avoid collisions.
“I thought at some stage I’d get torpedoed by Max,” explained Hamilton, who also labelled Verstappen a “magnet” for contact. In the same press conference, Vettel added that he treated Verstappen differently to other drivers.
Verstappen has now hit back at the multiple world champions, particularly Hamilton for his ‘torpedo’ jibe.
“Looking at Turn 1 and 2 in Mexico, I don’t think that happened,” Verstappen said ahead of this weekend’s United States GP.
“From my side, it was a bit of a silly comment to make. I think I’m always a hard racer, but fair – and I think it’s just not correct. But it’s easy to have a dig at someone.
“I don’t need to dig into other people in a press conference. I think it’s a bit disrespectful, and I prefer to fight on track which I love to do.”
But Verstappen, who eventually finished sixth in Mexico City after a spirited comeback in the Red Bull, is also taking his rivals’ criticism as a positive.
“From my side, it’s fine,” he claimed. “It’s always positive when they talk about you because that means you’re in their head.
“Of course I love to fight hard, but on the edge. I really want to take the fight to them, because that’s what we are here for. We are racers, we are in Formula 1 so I think we are the best out there … and we do fight for victories because that’s what I live for.
“It only shows that I’m in their heads, and that’s a good thing.”
When questioned on Hamilton and Vettel’s criticism by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz, Verstappen continued: “I don’t think it’s fair the way they explained it, because I’m not reckless or anything like that.
“That was the part of it which I think was not right.”
Source: Fox Sports