F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Max Verstappen says he ‘can’t be bothered’ by the potential mind games with title rival Lewis Hamilton, after the Brit announced he would not be getting caught in a ‘childish war of words’ ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Verstappen took control of the championship after victory at the Monaco Grand Prix, and now heads into round six at Baku with a four-point lead in the Driver’s standings over the Mercedes driver.
In the aftermath, Verstappen hit back at Hamilton – who had come into the weekend saying the 23-year-old had a lot to prove, something Verstappen dismissed.
“First of all actions speak louder than words, I think that’s a good lesson after this weekend,” said the Red Bull driver, implying his performance in the principality had made his point.
“You have to talk on track, that’s what I like.
“We as a team so far have made the smallest mistakes, and that’s why we are ahead, so I hope we can keep that going for the rest of the season.”
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Responding to his rival, Hamilton said he wasn’t interested in “playing mind games”.
He added: “We’ve had some good races also. There are 18 races to go. I’m not going to [say more]. It’s childish in the end when you start getting into a war of words.”
Speaking in the press conference ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Verstappen reiterated he has a good relationship with Hamilton even though there are some who think cracks could be forming between the two with the championship heating up.
Yet when asked if he was ready for the mind games that could come with the territory of fighting for a title, the Dutchman replied: “If they come, I can’t be bothered by it to be honest – mind games.
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“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 track anyway, which I think we do.
“That’s also the best, I mean whatever is said in here [the press conference room] sometimes, at the end of the day it can be a bit emotional sometimes after a race or before a race, and it also sometimes depends on how you get the question asked.
“It’s alright, Lewis and I – we really respect each other, and I think that’s very important.”
Verstappen now has a four-point cushion to Hamilton in the standings, with Lando Norris in the McLaren leapfrogging Bottas for third place, after a tricky weekend for the Finn last time out.
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