F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Formula One legend Damon Hill has suggested that Max Verstappen is struggling with the media scrutiny of being a championship contender, and that his title rival Lewis Hamilton’s vastly superior experience has given him an advantage when it comes to dealing with such pressure. Verstappen lost his temper and swore in his post-qualifying press conference at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s outburst came after he was repeatedly questioned about the now infamous crash at Silverstone between himself and Hamilton which has dominated Formula One discourse for weeks. Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, Hill said: “It’s not fair because Tom [Clarkson, the interviewer at driver press conferences] has got a job to do.
“It’s not realistic to enter into this sport, or any sport that’s got a huge following, and expect people not to ask the awkward questions.
“You’re going to get probed, people are going to probe into your private life, they’re going to probe into your business deals.
“They want to know everything about you, and that is the nature of being in the limelight.”
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Hill also intimated that the fact that Hamilton started his career so young and has been racing for so long means that he is now expert at coping with press confrontation. He added: “I think that Max is struggling, maybe he wants to have a quiet life and just race his cars. Well Lewis had that introduction from a very early age and he’s dealt with it, and he’s learned to deal with the media.
“I think maybe he’s more adept at dealing with it now than he was. This is another skill that professional sportspeople have to learn, not to be riled by being asked the same question over and over and over again, even though you want to scream sometimes.”
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Hill’s comments were agreed with by former driver Allan McNish, who thinks that Red Bull failed to properly prepare or protect their driver. McNish now works as a team principal in Formula E for Audi.
McNish said: “With my team principal hat on, I would go to our internal PR and say, ‘Right, what is going to happen now? We need to protect our driver and make sure he’s got strategy to be able to achieve it as well.
“Because you can’t just set the driver out there to be the target. You’ve got to give him a little bit of support and defence behind.
“I think there could have been a little bit more done in that area. Tom’s got the right and every media’s got the right to ask the question. The driver has got the right not to answer it, but if he does answer it he’s got to be polite, and unfortunately with this one it wasn’t quite the occasion.”
Verstappen and Hamilton will resume their fiery battle for the title at the Belgian Grand Prix on August 27 after the end of the mid-season break.
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