Lewis Hamilton has said he would repeat the move against Max Verstappen that led to the Dutchman crashing out of the British Grand Prix. The pair clashed at Silverstone and while Hamilton was unequivocal in his belief that he was racing fairly, Verstappen issued another scathing attack on the world champion and his Mercedes team, insisting once again that their celebrations of victory while he was in hospital were “disrespectful”.
Hamilton and Verstappen are in a close fight for the Formula One title this season. Before the British GP Verstappen had a 33-point lead over the world champion. On the first lap at Silverstone Hamilton had attempted a pass up the inside of Copse corner, the two cars touched and Verstappen was sent off at high speed into the barriers, ending his race. Hamilton was adjudged by the stewards to have caused a collision and was punished with a 10-second penalty but still went on to win, reducing his deficit to just eight points.
Red Bull and Verstappen were furious with the Dutchman who was flown to hospital for a check-up after the 180mph, 51-G impact, accusing Hamilton of “dangerous, disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour”.
Hamilton, now in his 15th season in F1 and a seven-time champion, was clear he had no regrets for not backing out of the move when asked if he would do it differently again. “I would do the move exactly the way I did it [il] last [time]," Egli ha detto. “I have reviewed it and analysed from all my experience and my experience over the years speaks for a lot and I wouldn’t change it.”
Hamilton confirmed that he called Verstappen after the race to check he was OK but it appears there is considerable ill-feeling still lingering. Verstappen reiterated his accusation that Hamilton and Mercedes’ celebrations were unacceptable and that it reflected badly on the character of the Mercedes team.
“What I mean by disrespectful is one guy is in hospital and the other guy is waving the flag around like nothing has happened after pushing the other guy into the wall at 51G," Egli ha detto. “But it is not only that, it is the whole reaction of the team. That is not how you celebrate a win, especially a win in the way that they got it. That is what I found really disrespectful and it shows how they really are, it comes out in a pressure situation. I wouldn’t want to be seen like that.”
Hamilton responded by explaining he and the team were unaware Verstappen had been taken to hospital. “I don’t believe our behaviour was disrespectful," Egli ha detto. “It’s one thing knowing and then celebrating what happened and one thing not knowing and celebrating. I wasn’t aware.”
Red Bull have requested a review of the incident at Silverstone and they and Mercedes presented their cases to the FIA stewards via video conference on Thursday afternoon.
Hamilton received considerable racist abuse on social media during and after the race, which was condemned by F1 but he believed that if it served to ultimately improve equality and diversity by highlighting the problems he accepted it was a price worth paying.
“It was amazing to see the support from the sport, my team and from some of the drivers, I felt for the first time I didn’t stand alone in the sport," Egli ha detto. “For all the other years I have been was racing no one would ever say anything, when it happened in [his debut year] 2007 no one said anything. It was amazing to see the steps being taken, there is no room for that sort of abuse but if I have to be on the receiving end of it in this industry for people to become aware, that is part of my journey.”
Earlier on Thursday Hamilton also expressed his strong opposition to anti LGBTQ+ legislation in Hungary. Last month the Hungarian government passed a law banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s.
“To all in this beautiful country Hungary, ahead of the grand prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ law,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram. “It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power [per] suggest such a law. Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify.”
The country is set to hold a referendum on plans to censor LGBTQ+ education and the world champion encouraged citizens to oppose the proposals. “I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever," scrisse.