Lewis Hamilton’s ‘dirty’ driving against Max Verstappen claims dismissed

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collide. Sao Paulo, November 2022

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collide. Sao Paulo, November 2022

A former McLaren sporting director has denied Lewis Hamilton is a “dirty” driver when battling Max Verstappen.

Whilst not so common during the last two seasons, Hamilton and Verstappen would regularly battle on track as they fought for the race win.

The tensions between the two reached boiling point in 2021 as both drivers vied for the title with a number of crashes during the season, most notably at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia.

Neither driver was particularly happy with the other’s actions and both drivers have been labelled with terms such as ‘dirty’ or ‘reckless’.

But one man who has experience of working with Hamilton says that is not the case with the seven-time World Champion.

“Some people need the confidence to say that there’s some other reason why they didn’t perform,” Sam Michael told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“They want to process it so that they’re the best and I get that their ego and confidence requires them to say something else must have happened for me not to win that race or for me to do this or that.

“Having said that, I don’t think Lewis was like that from my experience of working with Lewis at McLaren. Because there’s a downside to being like that which is that you may not properly process your weaknesses and I’d have to say Lewis is very good at that.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do something that you think ‘that was dirty’. Even looking at the recent stuff with him and Max, he goes out of his way to not do stuff.

“So he [Verstappen] might do things where [he’s] putting the car into a position where it’s like ‘you do this and we crash.’ You don’t see Lewis do that to you.”

Hamilton’s biggest transgression came at Silverstone 2021 when he crashed into the rear of Verstappen, sending the Dutchman on a 180mph-collision course with the barrier and out of the race. Hamilton was found guilty by the stewards and handed a 10-second time penalty but it proved little hindrance as he went on to win the race.

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That example was put to Michael, who worked with Hamilton at McLaren from 2011 until the latter’s departure in 2013, and he admitted he had no answer.

“That’s an interesting one, maybe that was an example,” Michael said. “Obviously, Red Bull felt that didn’t they?

“That’s an interesting one for you to ask Lewis because it’s very hard to explain that one away, isn’t it?

“Lewis is too honest when I say that, there’s no such thing as being too honest but he’s an honest person. There’s probably a part of his legacy that he wants to make sure that’s important to him.

“So Silverstone is an interesting challenge. There’s a lot of people on the fence and there’s a lot of people that say actually, no, he shouldn’t have done that and there’s others that don’t.”