Ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has responded to recent comments from main title rival Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver branded the seven-time world champion “stupid” during practice for the United States Grand Prix.
Eyebrows were raised during the bizarre incident as the pair seemed to be challenging each other on the start/finish straight heading up to Turn 1 in a session that is purely for collecting data ahead of the race.
Despite not actually touching, Verstappen hit out at Hamilton, calling him a “stupid idiot” over the team radio, after raising his middle finger up at the 36-year-old.
And it’s not the first time the pair have had a heated battle this season, clashing twice on track at the British Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix.
Yet, when asked how he is able to manage any personal attacks on and off track, Hamilton responded: “I mean, look, I have been here for a long time. So it’s not my first rodeo but I think at the core of everything there has to be respect.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc hints at Mexican Grand Prix goal
Hamilton’s father Anthony recently denied that there is any bad blood between the pair in their thrilling championship fight.
With just five races remaining, the championship looks set to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, with the Dutchman currently holding a 12-point lead over Hamilton in what could be a grandstand finish.
Yet, after a big blowout between Mercedes and Red Bull at Silverstone, and then again in Italy when the Dutchman’s car ended up wedged on top of the Mercedes, Hamilton Snr denied any suggestion the pair don’t like each other.
“No, that’s not true, they are fierce competitors,” Hamilton Snr told talkSPORT. “Lewis is where Max wants to be, Max is where Lewis wants to be.
“They are like boxers going into the ring, but I guarantee that when it’s over and done there will be huge hugs and laughter and kisses between the pair of them.”
Mercedes hold the lead in the Constructors’ Championship by 23 points as Formula One heads to Mexico City.
Qualifying gets underway at 8pm BST on Saturday evening with the race at 7pm on Sunday.