Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton revealed his views and understanding of Max Verstappen's aggressive driving style in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport. The Briton explained his efforts to understand the psyche behind his rival's driving style and his own intrigue towards it.
Speaking to Andrew Benson of BBC Sport F1, Lewis Hamilton highlighted his experience with other drivers other than Verstappen and said:
"He's not the only driver I've raced against that's like this. I've raced so many drivers in my time and they've all been very different in the way they behave. And it's interesting."
The title contending duo have clashed on track several times this season, with their race-ending Monza clash being the highlight of the season. The most recent clash between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton has drawn flak over the former's driving style due to their lap 48 incident at the Brazil Grand Prix.
While Verstappen forced the Briton to run wide off-track in an edgy attempt to defend his position, his aggressive approach has drawn criticism. A majority of the criticism surrounding the Dutchman since his debut as a young driver has often been about his aggression and extremely edgy driving.
Trying to understand the psychology behind such driving, Lewis Hamilton shed light on his analogy of rivals in the past and said:
"Now I'm older, I look a little bit deeper into their character and a bit of their background, upbringing. Our upbringing is why we act out the way we do and behave the way we do, good or bad. So I try to understand those so I can have more appreciation of who that character is I am racing with."
While Lewis Hamilton might be right in his opinion about a person's character being an off-shoot of upbringing and background, the same cannot be said about a driver's race-craft. The Briton was one of the most well-prepared rookies to enter the sport in 2007, while in the case of Verstappen, the Dutchman was the most underprepared rookie to enter F1 at a nascent age.
Therefore, the common understanding of Verstappen's edgy driving style is more relative to his growth as a driver honing his special innate skillset correctly as opposed to the background or upbringing influencing the same.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashed in the Qatar GP press conference over the Brazil incident
While Lewis Hamilton has tried to understand Max Verstappen's edgy racing style this season, the two clashed at an FIA press conference in Qatar with respect to their views over the lap 48 incident in Brazil. The Briton felt the move was wrong and deserved a penalty, while the Dutchman defended himself and summarized the incident as 'hard racing'.
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Mercedes had lodged a 'Right of Review' appeal to re-investigate the incident and review the stewards' decision to not penalize the clash. However, their appeal was rejected by the FIA. The regulatory body of F1 deemed the onboard evidence relevant but insignificant to review the decisions. Therefore Verstappen got away without a penalty for his clash with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil.