Max Verstappen says he is focused on what he has to do on the track to fight for the title this season and won’t let himself be bothered by mind games with arch-rival Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver sparked a bit of a psychological war with his opponent ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, claiming that Verstappen’s aggressive driving was rooted in the Red Bull driver’s need to prove himself.
The Dutchman appeared to address that comment after his dominant win in the Principality when he said that “actions speak louder than words”, while Hamilton said that he would steer clear of a “childish” war of words.
As the title fight unfolds and the tension rises, the struggle for psychological one-upmanship between the two drivers is also likely to increase, although Verstappen insists his relationship with his adversary is governed by a mutual respect.
“If they come – I can’t be bothered by it, to be honest, mind games,” Verstappen said in baku on Thursday.
“I think Lewis said after the race he doesn’t want to play those things. So we just have to focus on what we have to do on the track anyway, which I think we do, and that’s also the best.
“Whatever is said in here [in the press conference], sometimes, at the end of the day, it can be a bit emotional sometimes as well after a race or before a race. It also sometimes depends on how you get the question asked.
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“So it’s alright. I think Lewis and I, we really respect each other, and I think that’s really important.”
Verstappen heads into this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in the wake of a dominant defeat of Mercedes and with a four-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.
But the 23-year-old believes Red Bull still trails the Brackley squad on “normal tracks”.
Read also: Verstappen: Hamilton experience ‘doesn’t mean he’s more complete’
“I do still think they are, on normal tracks, ahead of us,” Verstappen said. “But I think for us so far this season, we’ve had a great start compared to the other seasons.
“We just need to keep it up, we need to keep improving, we need to bring new bits to the car all the time to try and improve it. Then I think we have a very good shot at it.
“But so far, of course to be leading the championship is very positive.
“It’s great, of course, to be first, but it’s more important where you end up after the race in Abu Dhabi.”
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