Max Verstappen rejects Lewis Hamilton's pressure claim over title race

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided last year at the Italian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton suggested Max Verstappen could feel the pressure from their title fight, but Max Verstappen rejected this suggestion.

Hamilton stated that he "remembers what it was to fight for my first championship" and "knows how it feels to be under such pressure".

Verstappen sarcastically replied, "I'm so nervous, I can barely fall asleep!" It is so terrible to fight for a title.

He said, "If someone knows about me, I am very relaxed regarding all those things."

Two weeks after colliding at the Italian Grand Prix, the pair will face each other in Russia. Red Bull's Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Hamilton by five points, with eight races remaining.

Hamilton stated, "What is important is that we continue to race hard and fair." "I have no doubt that we both will be professional and will learn from the past."

Briton recalled his 2007 McLaren debut season and said he wasn't going to assume anything about Verstappen. He said, "I'm just saying that I remember how it was and it certainly mounted up."

It was hard. It was intense. It was intense. I went through many emotions, and it wasn't always easy.

There is a lot pressure. There is a lot to be proud of when you work in a large team. That is something I can empathise with. We will still grow from this."

In his debut season, Lewis Hamilton was one point behind Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 world champion.

Verstappen stated that he is very chilled. It's the greatest feeling to own a car, a great vehicle, where you can go in every weekend and fight for a win.

"Those comments only show that he doesn't really know me." That's fine. It's not necessary to get to know him fully.

"I focus on me and it's a great experience to be out there at the front. We can continue that for a long time."

"There are many hypocrites around the world"

Verstappen's response on questions about Hamilton's comments after the incident at the last race also showed tension between them.

Hamilton stated in Italy that he was surprised by the Dutchman's departure without asking him if he was okay.

Verstappen stated on Thursday that "there are many hypocrites worldwide, that's for certain."

Max Verstappen spoke before the Russian Grand Prix this weekend

This was a reference to the first time they collided at the British Grand Prix. Verstappen had accused Hamilton of not being respectful of his win while Hamilton was being evaluated in hospital.

Verstappen, however, rejected the idea that rivalries could get nasty.

He said, "Not from mine side." "I'm pretty chill about it. It's more the questions that I keep asking about it.

"We are all professionals enough to leave it behind in Monza and go on in Sochi and the races afterwards."

"Ultimately, we all need to be smart."

This season, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are engaged in a close-fought fight for the title

There have been several near misses between title rivals this season, aside from the two crashes.

A collision was avoided on the first laps at the Emilia Romagna Grands Prix and Spanish Grands Prix. Hamilton pulled out of a wheel to wheel situation. Verstappen has yet to do this.

Hamilton stated that he never expected a driver to back off. This is not how I approach racing with any driver.

"Ultimately, it is up to us to be smart and recognize that you will never win every battle. It is all about making sure that you are ready to fight for the next corner.

"And experience teaches you that you can find the balance and that it is not always easy to achieve.

"I can relate to the excitement and pain of fighting for your first title. You go through many emotions and experiences during that time.

"I believe we will continue getting stronger, and I'm hopeful that we won't have more instances throughout the year."

Verstappen was asked if he would alter his approach. He replied: "I think it goes both ways." When we race each other, it is not just me."

Additional questions to be answered

After being deemed "predominantly responsible" for the crash with Hamilton in Italy, Verstappen will be penalized by three places on Russia's grid this weekend.

To ensure he makes it to the end of the season the Dutchman will have to use a new engine in any remaining races. This will result in an automatic grid penalty as he has already used his maximum allocation of three engines.

Red Bull is considering taking the engine from Russia, as he has the grid penalty. Verstappen however stated that "Nothing has been completely decided yet."

Hamilton claimed that he didn't feel any effects from the collision in which Verstappen's car struck him on the head.

He said, "I received lots of positive treatments and did lots of yoga. I was able to get back into the gym." "Very lucky."

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's Mercedes colleague, said that he is ready to accept team orders to help the Briton win the title if necessary.

The Finn stated that he didn't know if Hamilton would allow him to win, but that Hamilton would still be allowed to pass him if necessary. Mercedes will also ask Hamilton if he is ahead of his team-mate at the end of races.

Bottas stated that they have had many discussions internally. Every race is unique. Sometimes we might need to play together as a team. I have to accept one for the team. This situation is as it is. I'm here for the team, and I want to win both titles.