Lewis Hamilton sees himself as a natural target after another collision with Max Verstappen arrived in Sao Paulo.
The duo came together on several occasions during their fierce battle over the Drivers’ Championship in 2021, and as they found themselves fighting on-track at the 2022 Sao Paulo GP, the next moment of controversy arrived.
Verstappen went around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 1, taking the inside line at Turn 2, the pair then making contact at the exit as Verstappen was left with a broken front wing, later receiving a five-second time penalty as the stewards judged him to be predominantly at fault.
So, after yet another crash between the two, Hamilton was asked after finishing the Sao Paulo GP in P2, whether he now has safety concerns regarding on-track battles with Verstappen?
He does not, adding that as a seven-time World Champion, with the most wins, poles and podiums in Formula 1, these kinds of stats put a target on his back.
“I’m not concerned, don’t have any concerns,” Hamilton confirmed. “I think it’s natural when you have the success and the numbers on your chest, that you become a bit of a target.
“But it’s okay. It’s nothing that I have not dealt with before.”
While Verstappen picked up damage in the collision which forced him to pit, Hamilton continued, dropping to P8 but recovering to finish P2 behind George Russell, confirming a Mercedes one-two.
Hamilton was convinced at first that he had a puncture, and while that was not the case, he felt that the rear of his W13 had lost stability after the crash.
Fortunately, he was able to manage that with some changes on his steering wheel.
“Well, yesterday [in the sprint], there was a lot of damage from all the debris of the cars colliding ahead of me, so I had a bunch of different broken bits on the car, and I had lost quite a bit of downforce yesterday,” he said.
“But today, it was difficult to say. I couldn’t really see where on the car where we had touched.
“I definitely thought that I had a puncture on my right rear when I got back on track and I could definitely feel the rear didn’t feel as stable as it had done prior to that, but I managed to make changes on my steering wheel and kind of reconfigured the balance a little bit, but I think there’s something perhaps not 100% perfect, but we still got the one-two.”