Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s war of words has escalated ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, with the world champion telling his rival he would not change one thing about their 180mph crash at Silverstone.
Eleven days on from the accident which has lit the blue touch paper on this season’s Formula One fight, Hamilton insisted he had no regrets, and knocked back Verstappen’s suggestion that his victory celebrations in front of 140,000 partisan British fans were “disrespectful”.
Verstappen first made the claim from his hospital bed in Coventry in the hours after Hamilton’s controversial win, and here in Hungary – speaking for the first time since the crash at Copse corner – he then took aim at Hamilton and Mercedes’ integrity by claiming their exuberant celebrations “show what they are really like”.
On Thursday afternoon, Verstappen’s Red Bull team presented a dossier – understood to be more than 20 pages – to the British GP stewards in the hope Hamilton’s 10-second penalty, which they considered lenient, would be reviewed.
But the stewards were unmoved by Red Bull’s evidence log, with Hamilton’s 99th win, which sees him head into Sunday’s race just eight points adrift of Verstappen, left standing.
“I would do the move exactly the way I did it last time,” said Hamilton before the stewards’ deliberations.
“In terms of how I reviewed it, analysed it, and with all my experience – and over the years I have been through a lot – I wouldn’t change it.
“I don’t believe our behaviour was disrespectful. I really was not aware that he was in hospital.
“I saw on the screen that he had got out of the car. It is one thing knowing and celebrating what happened, and it is another thing not knowing and celebrating. Obviously, I wasn’t aware.
“It was my home grand prix and we worked incredibly hard for God knows how long to get a result like that. It was a monumental moment for us to experience with the home crowd being there for the first time in two years.
“Emotions were running high and it wasn’t an intentional celebration. It was natural, and I am not going to hide how I feel.”
Hamilton, 36, called Verstappen, 23, in the days after the crash in an attempt to clear the air.
Hamilton added: “I wanted to check he was OK and let him know the respect was still there, but it doesn’t look as though that has been reciprocated.”
Verstappen had said earlier on Thursday: “What I meant by disrespectful is that one guy is in hospital, and the other one is waving the flag around like nothing has happened after pushing the other guy into the wall at 51G.
“But it is not only that, it was 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, and it comes out in a pressure situation. I wouldn’t want to be seen like that.”