Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was less than impressed by Lewis Hamilton’s wheel-to-wheel fighting on the opening lap in Melbourne.
Verstappen may have come through to take the victory in the Australian Grand Prix, having had to overtake Lewis Hamilton on-track en route, but the Dutch driver wasn’t happy with how the Mercedes man got ahead of him in the first place.
At the start, Verstappen had a reasonably slow getaway and fell behind Mercedes’ George Russell. Heading into Turn 3, Verstappen came under pressure from Hamilton with the Mercedes driver getting alongside the Red Bull and shouldering his way past Verstappen.
Verstappen wasn’t pleased with how Hamilton had muscled through, complaining over team radio that he felt he had been pushed off on the outside kerb exiting the corner.
Max Verstappen explains steady start to Australian Grand Prix
Speaking after claiming victory, the two-time World Champion explained his mindset at the start of the Grand Prix.
“We had a very poor start,” he said.
“After that, I think the pace of the car was quick – you could see that straightaway. We were always there, waiting for the DRS to open up to have a chance to pass but, with these red flags… I don’t know.
“The first one maybe you can do it, but I think, that second one, I don’t really understand. It was a bit of a mess but we survived everything. We had good pace in the car today again and we won which is most important.”
Verstappen unhappy with Hamilton’s overtake
Asked specifically about the Lap 1 battle with Hamilton through Turn 3, Verstappen said he felt the permitted rules of engagement were not followed by the Mercedes driver.
“From my side, I just tried to avoid contact,” he said.
“It’s quite clear the rule- what is allowed to do, what you’re allowed to do now on the outside but, clearly, that’s not followed. But that’s OK, we had good pace and passed him anyway. But it’s something for the next race, just to take into account.”
Aside from his steady starts, Verstappen’s imperious drive only saw him put a wheel wrong on one occasion as he ran wide at the penultimate corner while leading by almost 12 seconds – losing five seconds in the process of resuming the track.
But it wasn’t a moment that concerned Verstappen much as he joked: “I think I did the city a favour! I just cut the grass a bit more, they don’t need to do that anymore in that area!
“I locked up a bit and didn’t want to flatspot the tyre completely so I ran a bit wide – I had a good margin.”