Lewis Hamilton sought out Max Verstappen for a handshake on Thursday at the Chinese Grand Prix to move on from their clash in Bahrain.
Verstappen attempted to overtake Hamilton into Turn 1 early in the race but failed to get the move done clearly, with contact occurring when Verstappen looked to run the Mercedes out of space on the exit. Having criticized Verstappen for a lack of respect, Hamilton says he felt it was his obligation to clear the air in Shanghai on Thursday.
“I generally do my talking on the track,” Hamilton said. “After this incident I didn’t. But I mean I just saw Max for example just now. I think it’s always good to show respect. More importantly, being that I’m the older driver I felt that it was important that I went to him.
“So just as we were just signing [autographs] just now, I just shook his hand and I was like, ‘Look I’m sorry about the last race.’ Regardless of if it is his fault or my fault, it’s in the past. Hopefully, that sign of respect shows a lot and helps you turn the page and move forwards, racing each other and hopefully keeps respect between you as I think that’s important between drivers.”
With Verstappen’s spin during the Australian Grand Prix and a forced retirement in Bahrain as a result of damage sustained in the collision, Hamilton says drivers are still prone to making mistakes when fighting at the front.
“Look, I have a lot of respect for Max and I hope you can see that from the comments I’ve said about him in testing where he’s got great potential to be the champion. As we all know he’s such a talented driver. Jeez, I mean, I was in the same place when I was young, similar age, or older actually.
“But, still it’s such a learning process being with all the pressure, being in a top team. He’s going to have some great races and he’s going to have bad races, just as I will do today, even though I’m much older than him.”
Hamilton branded the Dutchman a “d***head” in the cool-down room after the race, and admitted he had forgotten there was a television camera filming the drivers that would pick up his remark.
“I think I’ve been pretty good all these years, I think it’s the first time I’ve forgot the camera’s there.
“Imagine you’re in a scenario where your senses are heightened, your emotions are running crazy, and you’re infuriated but yet you’re excited and adrenaline rush and someone sticks a mic in your face, you’re probably not going to answer as well as you would, as calm as you are right now. But people will judge you on that moment. You’re not going to feel great.
“It is good in sports to see some emotional stuff. This is definitely a sport that… you got to a hockey game and they don’t mind they have punch-ups and stuff, it’s cool. You go to a NASCAR race and there’s punch-ups. For some reason it’s reacted to differently [in F1], if we had a punch-up here, jeez, your career would be over! I don’t know why that is.”