Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton believes that the reason why controversial accidents keep happening between him and championship leader Max Verstappen could be the pressure that the latter feels while being a title contender for the first time in his F1 career.
"Obviously he won't admit to it, and I'm not going to make an assumption, but I remember what it was like when I had my first [title fight] and it definitely mounted up," said Hamilton in today's press conference
He went on to recall his personal experience in winning the first title, and especially the emotional burden that it can be at a young age in a such a famous team:
"It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions, and I didn't always handle it the best. And that's to be expected. There's a lot of pressure: you're working in a big team."
"There's a lot of self expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge. So I empathise and understand that. But I know that we will continue to grow from this," he added.
A key factor in the title fight, according to the Mercedes driver, will be experience, and to stay focused on the bigger picture, which can mean backing off in risky situations:
"We all have to be smart and know that there is a time where you're not going to make a corner, and it's all about making sure you live to fight the next corner. It's really kind of just through experience you find that balance, and you know that it's not all won on one corner."
Hamilton also argued Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko's claims. The Austrian had stated that, in his opinion, the British driver had exaggerated the pain and the aftermaths of the Monza accident with Verstappen, as Hamilton was able to attend the MET Gala the day after.
"I don't really listen to what these individuals talk about. It's natural when a car lands on your head you're going to have some sort of discomfort. As I said, I definitely felt a bit of pain after the race, and then I said I was going to get it checked out," he recalled.
Hamilton also added that he worked on it with his physio Angela Cullen's help immediately after the impact and during the flight. Later on, after a check-up on Monday, he treated his neck with acupuncture:
“She [Cullen] was meant to go home but she stayed with me all week. Lots of good, positive treatments and lots of yoga and then managed to get in the gym. I’m feeling good, feeling fortunate.”
The reigning champion concluded that he would rather leave all of this drama behind and think about the upcoming race at Sochi:
"I didn't say I was dying. Of course, I was aware of the fact that in just a millisecond, anything can happen. And so I did feel grateful to come out of it not badly injured. We move on."
“I’m just not putting any energy towards that. I’m just focusing on, literally just all the energy on moving forwards. Naturally, we are battling for a championship. I remember what it was like battling for my first championship and obviously I’m fighting for something like my 10th title battle."
Hamilton believes that the final championship rounds can be fought in a fairer way and with mutual respect on both sides of the paddock:
“I remember what it was like and the pressure and experiences that you go with, so I empathise with that. I think what is important is that we continue to race hard, but fair. I have no doubts that we will both be professional and learn from the past.”
The Mercedes driver addressed also the rumors of him taking up a new power unit and, consequently, a grid penalty by stating that it's not in the plans at the moment:
"As far as I’m aware right now I think we are OK,” he explained. “However there is a long way to go. At the moment we have no plans to put in a new engine. I hope that stays the same, but obviously I can’t predict the future.”