Sochi, September 23 (BUS): Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen traded verbal blows at the Russian Grand Prix on Thursday, less than two weeks after an accident that left his Formula 1 title rivals out of the last race.
Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, noted that Verstappen was feeling the pressure of fighting for his first title, according to the Associated Press.
The two rivals collided in the middle of the last race in Italy, allowing Daniel Ricciardo to take a surprise win for McLaren. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff credited the protective ‘halo’ device around Hamilton’s cockpit with saving his life after Verstappen’s car bounced over his head. Verstappen earned a three-place penalty in Russia after he was blamed for the crash – “not perfect, but not the end of the world,” he said.
The day after the accident, Hamilton attended the Met Gala in New York. He credited yoga and acupuncture with helping him recover from the neck pain he suffered in the accident, and said that in Russia he is feeling better.
This is the second time the two drivers have clashed this year after a similar incident at the British Grand Prix. On that occasion, Verstappen ended up in the hospital. Hamilton took a 10-second penalty but went on to win the race.
Verstappen is five points ahead of Hamilton in the championship. It’s not clear how many races are left, either seven or eight, because one venue has yet to be confirmed at an open venue on November 21.
Verstappen has fielded before in Sochi after grid penalties, jumping from 19th to fifth during the first eight laps of the 2018 race.
The Mercedes drivers won all seven races at Olympic Park, with Hamilton’s four victories.
Rain is expected in Sochi on Saturday qualifying and the race on Sunday. It could rock the event on a hard-to-overpass trajectory, perhaps helping Verstappen beat a penalty.
No one wants a repeat of last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, when torrential rain limited the race to two laps behind the safety car, angering fans.