Verstappen was replying to a subtle dig from Hamilton, made after the F1 British Grand Prix. Hamilton did not name his rival but was clearly referring to Verstappen when he praised Charles Leclerc’s “sensible” driving “after what I experienced last year”.
Hamilton was criticising Verstappen’s driving style after they collided at last year’s Silverstone – the Dutchman crashed out, and the Brit won the race.
Verstappen has now responded: “I think it’s great that, when you’re 37 years old, at some point you understand how to get to an apex.”
“He does learn, so that’s positive for the younger drivers: when you’re 37 you still stay always learning!
“You can clearly see it in the images, of course. Charles gave him less space than I did last year, so that says enough. Moreover, he received a penalty last year, so you should not talk about that.”
F1 has veered from Silverstone, Hamilton’s home race, to the Red Bull Ring, where Verstappen can count on major support.
Verstappen was booed at the British Grand Prix and has now said about the reception Hamilton will get in Austria: “He has to live with it himself.
“I think it’s a bit clumsy but, in the end, it has nothing to do with my performance. I have to focus on what we’re doing here.
“I think we’re doing quite well this year, so we’ll keep working on that.”
After the controversial end to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen and Hamilton’s rivalry did not reignite in the early stages of 2022, largely due to Mercedes’ porpoising problems.
But the old rivals have suddenly crossed paths again.
Hamilton lit the fuse, after finishing third at Silverstone, by telling Sky about his battle with Charles Leclerc: “Charles did a great job, what a great battle.
“He is a very sensible driver – clearly very different to what I experienced last year.
“At Copse for example, the two of us went through there, no problem.”
It was an obvious reference to when he bumped into Verstappen a year earlier.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner then waded in by claiming that Mercedes made a mistake at Silverstone with Hamilton’s tyres, allowing Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to win.
“It felt like they [Ferrari] have maybe been let off the hook there,” Horner said.
Hamilton laughed out loud in response to Horner, and said: “I don’t really care! I don’t pay much attention to what is said by that guy.”