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OPINION | Hamilton's attitude caused fans to boo at Silverstone

OPINION | Hamilton's attitude caused fans to boo at Silverstone

5 July - 11:45 Last update: 5 July - 11:45
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Tim Kraaij

After the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton caused a stir with a statement about his fight with Charles Leclerc. The Brit took a swipe at Max Verstappen, but was it justified?

Hamilton versus Verstappen

The friendly relationship that might have existed between Hamilton and Verstappen up until the British GP of 2021 has disappeared since that crash. The two collided on the first lap of the race. Verstappen ended up in the wall, Hamilton got a penalty, but the Mercedes driver won the race. His celebrations, however, irritated Verstappen, who was still in hospital.

That this bond was never repaired is partly due to the title fight, which only intensified from that moment on. The mud-slinging between Hamilton and Verstappen, as well as Mercedes and Red Bull Racing, only intensified. In 2022, drivers like Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc get on much better. Perhaps a generational thing.

Of course Verstappen was frequently asked about the incident around the weekend, but the reigning World Champion had put it behind him. He knew it was part of racing and just wanted to get on with it.

How different was the rival's situation. After a third place and an exciting battle with Leclerc, he couldn't help but direct some words towards Verstappen. "Charles did a great job, a very sensible driver. Clearly very different from what I experienced last year. Copse, for example, we had no problem with the two of us going through it," Hamilton said afterwards.

Without mentioning his name, everyone knew Hamilton was referring to the incident with Verstappen in 2021. Despite a penalty Hamilton still believes Verstappen and not himself was to blame for the incident. He now points to a duel with Leclerc as being how it could be done, but in doing so he shows he is wrong.

Leclerc does nothing else

If you put the images of the incidents side by side, it is not Leclerc or Verstappen who does something else. Verstappen and Leclerc are both on the outside next to (Max even slightly ahead of) Hamilton and brake later. By braking later they also steer much more towards the apex and there is no room for the man on the inside to let the car run. Maybe it makes a difference of millimetres, but the actions of Leclerc and Verstappen are similar.

The difference between the two moments is in Hamilton's movement. Where the seven-time World Champion against Leclerc managed to get to the apex and stay on the inside, in his duel with Verstappen he went straight on. Maybe he would have made it to the corner (probably not), but with someone next to you you can't go wide at Copse. Hamilton got a penalty for that too, so the incident is not comparable.

Hamilton sets a bad example

That Hamilton does this shows two things. First of all he is one of the few drivers who keep playing psychological games. Where the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers enjoy watching videos with each other before a race, the living legend still tries to shake them up by giving them a wink in an interview. Surely Verstappen must know that doesn't work.

Apart from the fact that it is remarkable he keeps doing this, it also shows the frustration Hamilton still has after 2021. He says he has come to terms with it all and wants to get back into the fray, but this shows his head is not quite clear yet. He has nothing to do with Red Bull and Verstappen and lets everyone know it at every opportunity.

We also saw that cold attitude towards Red Bull towards Perez. The Mexican did little wrong at Silverstone, but Hamilton remained gruff in his responses, where Perez hoped to talk about the race behind the scenes of the podium. Again, this is very different when other drivers are allowed on the podium.

Hamilton's attitude has rubbed off on his fans. Fans in Zandvoort did not make a good first impression by booing Hamilton, but that disappeared during the weekend. Verstappen was booed a little before Hamilton made comment. There were also cheers for everything that went wrong for him. As at Zandvoort, it's up to everyone whether they cheer or whistle.

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