03 June 2021

Max Verstappen ‘cannot be bothered’ playing mind games with Lewis Hamilton

03 June 2021

Max Verstappen says he will not waste time playing mind games with Lewis Hamilton in his bid to stop the British driver from winning a record eighth world championship.

Verstappen arrived in Baku for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix holding a four-point lead over Hamilton following the Red Bull driver’s victory last time out in Monaco.

In the aftermath of his triumph, Verstappen, 23, said that “action speaks louder than words” following Hamilton’s pre-race claim that his rival “feels he has a lot to prove”.

“I cannot be bothered with mind games,” said Verstappen ahead of the sixth race of the season.

“I think Lewis said after Monaco that he doesn’t want to play those games so we have to focus on the track which is the best way.

“Whatever is said, before or after the race, can sometimes be emotional and it depends how the question is asked. Lewis and I really respect each other and that is very important.”

Verstappen will head into Sunday’s race leading the championship for the first time in his career after his dominant victory on the streets of Monte Carlo a fortnight ago.

Hamilton, 36, finished only seventh on a disappointing weekend for the world champion and his all-conquering Mercedes team.

Hamilton vowed to have stern words with Mercedes following the poor result.

“There is never any finger pointing,” said Hamilton. “We work together, have difficult discussions and we don’t feel out of place to question each other and spark a lot of debate.

“There was a huge deep dive into what we could do better and that is why we are the great team that we are. One race doesn’t define us.

“You are hunting the whole year, so whether I am ahead or behind in the championship, it doesn’t feel any different for me.

“We all want that same goal, which is to win races and championships, so we are all hunters.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas’ arrival in Baku was delayed after his flight was grounded in Finland.

Bottas, already 58 points off the championship summit after the first five rounds, is expected to be in his Mercedes for opening practice on Friday.

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