Lewis Hamilton insists his relationship with Max Verstappen is “no different” from any other year, despite being embroiled in an intense tug of war for the lead of the Formula One world championship this season.
Fans have been treated to an intense battle between the two world-class drivers, with Hamilton looking to become the most decorated driver in Formula One history, surpassing Michael Schumacher in the record books with an eighth world title.
Verstappen, meanwhile, is looking to claim a maiden title alongside Red Bull, and collect the team’s first championship since 2013 when Sebastian Vettel was crowned champion.
Yet, both drivers have been involved in potentially harmful accidents this season after tangling together, with Verstappen hospitalised after their crash at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and Hamilton left praising the Halo for saving his life during the Italian Grand Prix.
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For their part, each title protagonist has picked up a hefty penalty, with Hamilton handed a 10-second time penalty for the crash at Silverstone, and Verstappen received a three-place grid drop for causing a collision at Monza – yet, with a penalty apiece and tensions high, Hamilton believes his relationship hasn’t changed with the 24-year-old.
“Not a huge amount to say,” said Hamilton, speaking during the press conference ahead of the United States Grand Prix. “There is limited communication, I think maybe some of the drivers hang more than others do.
“I wouldn’t say I particularly hang closely with anyone particularly here.”
Speaking of his main title rival Verstappen specifically, Hamilton admitted nothing has changed in or outside of the paddock, with both drivers living in Monaco.
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“Last year we would see each other at the track and we would say hi, we do the same this year. It’s no different for me, personally,” concluded Hamilton.
Verstappen takes a six-point lead over the 36-year-old heading to the United States Grand Prix, a place the seven-time world champion has picked up six victories at.
And speaking ahead of the race on Sunday, the 1996 World Champion Damon Hill believed Hamilton would pick up a seventh win in Austin.