The incident in Monza was the second one this season between the title contenders, the first one being in the British Grand Prix. In that one, Lewis Hamilton continued to win the race while Max Verstappen was sent to the hospital without fatal injuries but to make sure everything was ok. The Dutchman criticized Hamilton for celebrating home win while he was undergoing medical checks.
This made ground for critics towards Verstappen when he walked away from the crash in Monza without ensuring the Brit was uninjured. People, including Hamilton himself, made comments about the surprise that Max gave them when he left the scene. But Max thinks he did nothing wrong there.
"There are a lot of hypocrites in the world, that's for sure," said Verstappen, when asked about the criticisms for what he had done after the crash.
"I mean, I jumped out of the car, and I looked to the left. And he's of course still trying to reverse, shaking the wheel, trying to get away under my car. So, I think he was absolutely fine.
Verstappen was handed a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix, which he doesn’t agree with but says that at the end of the day it’s what the authorities have decided.
During interviews on Thursday in Sochi, Hamilton made various comments about how this is Verstappen’s first title fight and that he might be feeling extra pressure from it. The British driver added that he empathised with the Dutch driver based on his experience from 2007.
But when Max was asked about Lewis’ comments about him being affected by the pressure, he said that it shows his rival doesn’t really know him. In an impassive tone he said:
“Yeah, I’m so nervous I can barely sleep. I mean, it’s so horrible, to fight for a title. I really hate it. Yeah.”
“No, I think if someone knows me, I think I’m very relaxed about all those things and I really can’t be bothered, I’m very chilled,” he added.
“It’s the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you go into every weekend and then you can fight for a win. It doesn’t matter if you’re just leading a championship or not.
“I think, those comments, I mean, it just shows you that he [Hamilton] really doesn’t know me – which is fine, I mean I also don’t need to know him, how he is, fully.
“I just focus on myself, and I really enjoy it out there out front, and hopefully of course we can do that for a very long time.”
The title-fighting drivers head into the race in Sochi with just a 5-point difference in favour of Verstappen. Despite comments from different people and the public about the possibility of both crashing into each other again, Max expressed he’s calm and chilled about everything, saying:
“I think we’re all professional enough to leave this behind in Monza and just continue again here in Sochi, and the races after that.”