Max Verstappen has dismissed Lewis Hamilton’s claim that the pressure will be building on the 23-year-old as he nears the business end of his first title fight.
Hamilton stated earlier on Thursday that he empathized with Verstappen having been 22 himself when he fought for his first Formula 1 championship, as the Briton felt he was unprepared for the pressure and intense situation. However, when that suggestion was put to Verstappen, he sarcastically replied: “Yeah, I’m so nervous I can hardly sleep. It’s so horrible to fight for a title, I really hate it, yeah.
“No, I think if someone really knows me, I’m very relaxed about all those things and I really can’t be bothered — you know, I’m very chilled. It’s the best feeling ever to have a great car where you go into every weekend and you can fight for a win.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re just leading a championship or not, those comments, I mean it just shows you that he doesn’t really know me, which is fine — I don’t need to know him, how he is fully. I just focus on myself and I really enjoy it out there at the front and of course hopefully we can do it for a really long time.”
While stating that both he and Hamilton have been unwilling to back down in the situations that led to their collisions, Verstappen admits he wasn’t expecting a penalty for the clash in Monza but is not overly upset by it.
“I was already heading to the airport (when the penalty was given). I was a bit surprised to hear the three-place grid penalty myself. At the end of the day, it’s what they (the stewards) decided. I don’t need to agree with it. I have my own views, of course. We just move on and make the best of it. It’s not ideal but it’s not the end of the world.”
With a wet race weekend forecast in Sochi, Verstappen says there’s a chance he will take an engine penalty at the Russian Grand Prix.
“To be honest there’s a lot of question marks, also from our side. We will have to wait and see a little bit throughout the weekend what’s happening and how competitive we are as well. Nothing has been fully decided yet.”