Damon Hill lambasts ‘poor loser’ Max Verstappen for ‘sulky’ outburst

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver George Russell with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell with Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill was far from impressed with Max Verstappen’s calls to ‘scrap the Sprint format’ after a dramatic Saturday.

Verstappen finished in third place in the Sprint race on Saturday in Azerbaijan, following a dramatic start to the race in which he picked up damage from a scrap with George Russell.

The situation led to Verstappen losing his cool with Russell in parc ferme, calling the Mercedes driver a “d**khead” after apparently not accepting Russell’s explanation for their contact at Turn 2 which resulted in sidepod damage to Verstappen’s RB19.

Verstappen has been a vocal critic of the Sprint format F1 has been slowly but surely introducing on a more regular basis across a season and, still amped up from the events of the race, bluntly said the format should be ditched as quickly as possible.

“Just scrap the whole thing,” he said in the post-sprint press conference.

“I think it’s just important to go back to what we have, and make sure that every team can fight for a win.

“That’s what we have to try and aim for and [not] try to implement all this kind of artificial excitement. I would say I got bored through today’s qualifying, to be honest.

“I like to have one particular qualifying where you just put everything in it, and that was yesterday, which I of course enjoy and then they have to do it again today.

“I’m like, ‘my god, another qualifying?’ I just don’t really enjoy that.”

Damon Hill: Max Verstappen is just sulking

An unimpressed Hill responded to the reigning World Champion’s comments with sarcasm.

“We should just give Max Verstappen the championship and just not bother with anything else,” he told Sky F1.

“Sorry, that’s just sulking. That’s a poor loser. Sorry. It’s fair for everyone, it’s the same competition. He should be basically thinking about tomorrow, thinking about the championship, and putting it behind him.”

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Damon Hill: Max Verstappen’s mindset similar to previous Champions

Discussing Verstappen’s response and refusal to accept any proportion of blame for the contact with Russell, Hill said that Verstappen is displaying a similar stubbornness to the mindset displayed by the likes of previous Champions before him.

“I think this is the sort of mindset we’ve seen in people like Schumacher and Senna,” he said.

“There are just some people who will not accept that they have any part to play in stuff that happens.

“If you cast your mind back to Monza [2021] with Lewis Hamilton, he just didn’t back out of the corner. He’s done it himself, he’s a hard racer – they’re both hard racers, George and Max, and this is what happens when you get a rock and a hard place together.

“It looks like you have to have that kind of default ‘I’m in the right and everyone else is out of step’ [mentality].

“I don’t agree with it myself. You have to take the rough with the smooth to be able to make it through any sport, because it’s not going to be always good. It’s not always going to be you in the right.

“There are going to be times when you get it wrong. He qualified lower than his teammate and he was on the outside of the corner going into it, so he was vulnerable, and he should have understood that, being on the outside, he was going to be vulnerable from attack from George who was there down the inside.”