For the first time in eight years, Mercedes has actually found in Red Bull a great contender for the title which has been able to keep the battle alive so far in the Championship. The same rivalry is happening on the track with their top drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The two drivers share the same hunger for winning which links them through two different generations and, at the same time, causes them to collide. The last time it became really dangerous, as during the Italian Grand Prix Max Verstappen bumped into Hamilton in his eagerness to overtake.
After this incident, Hamilton got out with some pain in his neck for the impact and had to ask for help from doctors and physiotherapists. On this occasion, he talks about the importance of being always focused on building a healthy rivalry, which can be harsh and cruel, but that never lacks fair play, as it could bring danger.
“I'm in a place in my life where I felt a lot of gratitude, and I was like, wow, things can change so quickly in life and just in a millisecond something can happen, - he told ESPN ahead of Russian GP - I just felt really grateful to be there, be healthy and not be in worse shape.”
The Mercedes driver reveals he has seriously considered of not taking part at the Met Gala event in New York he has been invited to, as he was still suffering from the consequence of the hard impact he had.
Then he recalls the incident and the consequent words. He said how bad he felt, and Helmut Marko, the renowned Red Bull advisor showed himself quite perplexed, hinting that the Englishman was “overplaying”.
“I didn't say I was dying!”- Hamilton reacted. He thinks that this fight has to be managed better, as Verstappen’s lack of experience, mixed with youth and desire to win can lead to bad consequences.
“Yes, I've had to back out of certain scenarios with Max because otherwise we are going to crash, and I'm just like, 'I'll beat him in another way,'- he pointed out - I think, 'If I can just survive this corner, I will challenge and fight him another way, stay close, use strategy and all these different things.' But that comes with experience and I really do hope that that pays dividends at the end of the year, but of course you have just got to find the right balance. That's really what I'm just trying to do.”
Mediation this morning with my dad, watching the sunrise. Taking a moment to be grateful for all we have achieved together pic.twitter.com/DRymiK4SjU— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 29, 2021
Later, he explains he feels like he has always had a “target on his back”, as Verstappen is certainly not the first who is hard to battle against, as he remembers Alonso as the hardest competitor he had. The difference has to be made in the way the battle is managed, as it has to be fought with the best weapons but the main goal shouldn’t simply be winning, but doing it in the “right way”.
“I know he'll probably learn from the experience, as I will. I can't expect things to change, so I will just try to apply myself better moving forward, and that's all I can control in my space. You always want to win the right way”.
However, the Champion doesn’t feel like this year has changed his relationship with the Dutchman, pointing out there is no bad blood between them.
“I feel he's a tremendous talent and I am enjoying racing with him. Do I agree with everything he does? It doesn't even matter. What matters is that he does him and he will learn, and all I can control is what I do and how I handle things. Whatever happens at the end of the year we are going to be shaking hands and we will be back to fight again the next year.”