Pressure? What pressure?: Verstappen shrugs off Hamilton comments

Sochi (Russia) (AFP) –


A defiant Max Verstappen on Thursday rejected suggestions from Lewis Hamilton that he may be feeling the pressure of their title fight and said it showed that the defending champion simply did not know him.

The Red Bull driver, who leads the championship by five points, but has a three-place grid penalty for this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, added that he had put his Italian crash behind him and would continue to race as hard as ever.

"Yeah, I'm so nervous I can barely sleep," said the Dutchman, with heavy sarcasm.

"I mean, it's so horrible to fight for a title…. I really hate it!

"Those comments, it just shows you that he really doesn't know me – which is fine. I also don't need to know him, how he is.

"I'm very relaxed about all those things and I really can't be bothered. I'm very chilled."

Seven-time champion Hamilton, 36, had earlier recalled his own first championship-fighting season in 2007, when he was also 23, and said he had succumbed to the pressures.

But a bullish Verstappen, 24 next week, who was apportioned most blame for the pair's dramatic Monza collision, maintained that he was not feeling any strain this year after winning seven races to Hamilton's four for Mercedes.

"It's the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you go into every weekend and you can fight for a win," he told reporters.

"It doesn’t matter if you’re just leading a championship or not."

He added that he was not dwelling on their crash at Monza and would not be looking back.

"We are professional enough just to handle the situation. At the time, I think we are both upset with what happened, but it's also important to move on.

"You can't always look back because if you have to do that with every single moment in your life, not only Formula One, then I think you will be a very sore person.

"You should be able to forget stuff, forgive stuff in general, in life, otherwise I don't think you will live a very happy life.

"That's also what you do in racing and we just move on and try to again have a good fight here in Sochi."

A feisty Verstappen also attacked his critics who accused him of walking away from the scene of the Monza crash without checking that Hamilton was unhurt.

He said he could see that Hamilton was trying to reverse his car out from underneath the Dutchman's Red Bull, indicating that he was fine.

"There are a lot of hypocrites in the world, that's for sure," he said.

"I jumped out of the car and looked to the left and he was still trying to reverse, shaking the wheel, trying to get away from under my car."

He added that by flying to attend the Met Gala in New York on the following day, Hamilton demonstrated he was not hurt.

"You only do that if you feel fine," said Verstappen.

Hamilton is seeking an unprecedented 100th F1 victory on Sunday to regain the lead in the title race.