Lewis Hamilton joins Sergio Perez in Max Verstappen’s Austria sprint bad books

Jamie Woodhouse
Race winner Max Verstappen speaking with second placed Lewis Hamilton. Spain June 2023. Jenson Button

Race winner Max Verstappen speaking with second placed Lewis Hamilton. Spain June 2023

Sergio Perez irked Max Verstappen with his “not okay” defence in the Austria sprint, and earlier that day Lewis Hamilton did not adhere himself to the World Championship leader either.

Perez and Verstappen got a little too close for comfort out on the track at the start of the Austria sprint, Perez taking the lead from his Red Bull team-mate into Turn 1, before seemingly squeezing Verstappen towards the grass on the run down to Turn 3.

Verstappen demanded and got a chat with Perez immediately after the sprint, which Verstappen ultimately won by 21 seconds over Perez, and it would appear that this discussion reached an amicable conclusion.

Lewis Hamilton upset Max Verstappen with “not correct” conduct

A separate incident earlier that day though during qualifying for the sprint left a lasting frustration for Verstappen, on-track antics which involved the Dutchman and his former title rival Hamilton.

After Hamilton saw his best SQ1 time deleted due to track limits, it left the Mercedes driver with one final attempt to avoid falling at the first hurdle.

Hamilton was informed on his preparation lap that Verstappen, on a push lap, would be approaching – “so go now,” he was told over team radio – but Verstappen would complain that Hamilton had blocked him as he came through Turn 10.

Verstappen and Hamilton’s little duel continued from there though, as with the roles now reversed for the start of this next lap, Hamilton on a timed effort and Verstappen on a cool-down, Verstappen would pass Hamilton as they approached Turn 1.

With Hamilton now compromised, it meant his chances of making it through to SQ2 were over.

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Sky F1 pundit Anthony Davidson suggested that Hamilton’s impeding was “no way as bad” as what Verstappen dished out in return, but it was Verstappen pointing the finger at Hamilton when he reflected on that exchange after the Austria sprint race.

“He blocked me into the last corner, so I had to brake more and I lost like three tenths,” Verstappen told reporters. “So that wasn’t ideal, and I think not correct.

“There was still a few seconds left on the clock so I didn’t know if my lap time was going to be safe and I wanted to continue.

“But ran out of time, space, with the two cars like that, which was a bit of a shame.”

Hamilton would start the sprint from all the way down in P18, but a strong recovery drive saw the seven-time Champion rise to P10 come the chequered flag.

Hamilton will have his eyes set on a stronger Sunday result as he prepares to start the Austrian Grand Prix from P5, while Verstappen once more will launch from pole.

Read next: Christian Horner’s verdict on ‘tasty’ Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez Austria sprint clash