Lewis Hamilton says he showed Max Verstappen respect by phoning him after their collision in the British Grand Prix and claims it isn’t being reciprocated.
Attempting to pass down the inside into Copse on the opening lap, Hamilton made contact with Verstappen’s right-rear tire and pitched the Red Bull into the barrier, where his car registered a 51G impact. After winning the race, Hamilton’s celebrations were branded as “disrespectful” by Verstappen who was having precautionary checks in hospital, but the defending champion says the lack of respect is in the other direction.
“As I said at the last race, I really was not aware,” Hamilton said. “I saw on the screen that he had got out of the car and he looked OK and I was told he was fine. I wasn’t aware until the media press pens afterwards that he had visited the hospital.
“None of us ever want to see another driver injured, or in harm’s way, or put another driver in harm’s way. Our focus is solely on this weekend. I did give Max a call after the race to just check he was OK and let him know the respect is still there, but obviously it’s perhaps not reciprocated. But that’s OK.”
Hamilton says the magnitude of his celebrations were simply a reflection of the emotion on the day in front of a capacity crowd at Silverstone.
“I don’t believe our behavior was disrespectful. But as I said, it’s one thing knowing and then celebrating what happened and there’s one thing not knowing and celebrating. As I told you, I wasn’t aware. But it’s my home grand prix and we worked incredibly hard for God knows how long to get a result like that — and what a monumental moment it was for us to experience the whole home crowd being there for the first time since last year was missed.
“Emotions were running high. It wasn’t an intentional celebration, it was just the joy of seeing so many people and so many people celebrating, being together. That’s the natural emotion. I’m not going to hide my emotions. It was an amazing feeling to see so many people.”
Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty for the incident but still went on to win, and amid a request to review the penalty from Red Bull in Hungary, the Briton says he wouldn’t change his approach.
“In terms of the move, I would do the move I did it last. In terms of how I’ve reviewed it and analyzed from all my experience and my experience over the years speaks for a lot… I wouldn’t change it.”
Despite some of the negativity surrounding the incident, Hamilton also says he was heartened by the reaction of the F1 paddock when he suffered racist abuse on social media following the crash.
“It’s nothing new for me. There’s not a huge amount more to add. What I would say is that it was amazing to see the support from the sport, from my team and from some of the drivers. I felt for the first time that I didn’t stand alone in the sport, because for the other years, the 27-whatever years it is I was racing, no one would ever say anything.
“When it (racist abuse) happened in 2007 no one ever said anything. So it was really amazing to see the steps we have taken. Of course we condemn that and there’s no room for that abuse. But if I have to be on the receiving end of that in this industry for people to become aware, then that’s part of my journey, that’s why I’m here.”