Lewis Hamilton airs grievance with younger F1 rivals – ‘I always had respect’

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton

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F1 legend Lewis Hamilton has suggested that the sport’s new wave of drivers are becoming increasingly aggressive, and the space he gives others is not reciprocated. The Brit sat down with bike racing icon Valentino Rossi to discuss all things motorsport, and Hamilton’s take on his own driving style may not be supported by his old team-mate Nico Rosberg based on previous comments made by the German. 

With seven Drivers’ Championships to Hamilton’s name and seven Moto GP World Championships to Rossi’s, there are not many better to discuss how their respective sports stack up against one another. Plenty of ups and downs can be found among their wealth of experiences, and they pointed out a similar shift in driver behaviour over the years. 

“For me, at the start there was a little bit more respect,” Rossi told Sky Sports. “Maybe it’s not respect, maybe it’s more… fair. If you tried to overtake you would try not to create a problem for the other [competitors]. Now, [racers] try to create problems for others.”

Hamilton responded: “It’s similar in F1 as well. I always had respect, but it may have been perceived not as respectful as I am now. Now I give the space, but others don’t give [me] the space.”

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The notion of respect, fairness, aggressiveness and allowing space was brought into sharp focus last season during Hamilton’s tense title run-in with Max Verstappen. While the battle ended in heartbreak for the Mercedes man, he could only hope of reaching those heights again amid the Silver Arrows’ woes in 2022. 

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have set the early pace this year. While the season’s first few races have thrown up entertaining battles, there is not yet the same element of bad blood that fans saw in 2021, although that could all change as the races pile up and the stakes grow higher. 

Red Bull and Verstappen have ground to make up on Ferrari and Leclerc, but they showed last time out at Imola that they can be right there with them with solid reliability. Hamilton, meanwhile, is forced to watch on from the midfield with Mercedes fundamentally lacking the pace to keep up. 

The ‘respect’ claims made by Hamilton are sure to be met with interest from Rosberg, who famously pipped his Mercedes team-mate to the world title in 2016. Earlier this year, the German told Sky Sports about Verstappen’s ‘aggressive’ moves on Hamilton and how the Brit used to do exactly the same thing to him. 

“Max definitely started the season very aggressively,” he said. “Barging Lewis out in Imola, [he did it] in a way that Lewis used to do to me!

“It’s one of Lewis’ great skills, and here he has an opponent doing to him what he usually does to others. Lewis is a warrior, he knows these kind of things. It’s like ‘ok, you did that to me today, and you wait, man’.”

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