Max Verstappen threw an apparent barb at Lewis Hamilton by saying “actions speak louder than words” after his Monaco Grand Prix victory.
On the streets of the Principality which is now his home, the Dutchman enjoyed a day that could not have gone better as he claimed the Drivers’ World Championship lead from Hamilton.
There had been a huge boost for Verstappen before the race as Charles Leclerc, the only man ahead of him on the grid, could not take the start due to an issue with the Ferrari which the Monegasque driver suspected had been caused by his crash at the end of qualifying.
With only fresh air ahead, Verstappen sent his Red Bull into the lead at lights out and was always in control thereafter, his job again made easier when his closest pursuer, Valtteri Bottas, had to retire his Mercedes when a wheel got stuck during his pit-stop.
Even better for the 23-year-old, Hamilton could only finish seventh and now Verstappen has leapfrogged his title rival in the standings to move four points ahead.
The victory came four days after Hamilton said he thought Verstappen might have “something to prove” with his strong-arm approach to their on-track battles so far this year.
Asked how important it had been to strike a blow against Mercedes, Verstappen told The Race: “Well, first of all, actions always speak louder than words.
“That’s a good lesson after this weekend. You only have to talk on the track. That’s what I like.
“We as a team so far made the smallest mistakes. That’s why we are ahead. So I hope we can keep that going for the rest of the season.”
Monaco!!! 🏆 Teamwork brought us this victory. Thank you so much to @hondaracingf1 and @redbullracing for helping me win today and to everyone for the support 🙏🏻 Over the moon with this win, but we are pushing for more. So for now, let’s enjoy this great victory 🍾🇲🇨 #MonacoGP pic.twitter.com/sPcT1ahiS5
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) May 23, 2021
It was a day of firsts for Verstappen – he had never previously led the World Championship or even finished in the top three in Monaco, having dropped to fourth due to a time penalty in 2019 after taking the chequered flag second on the road behind Hamilton.
“It’s nice, I’ve never been on the podium here and then first time straight away a win, so it’s a bit of redemption for all the other races here because I’ve never really had a lovely feeling on a Sunday here,” Verstappen told Sky F1.
“We will need to see how competitive we’re going to be in Baku. Of course there are a few lessons to be learned from here as well, how we started on Thursday – we don’t want that to happen there.
“We are competitive but Mercedes are still I think the ones to beat. They are very quick on, let’s say, more normal tracks.
“But of course very happy with what we achieved as a team this weekend. We are leading the championship and I hope of course to be there at the end of the season because that’s the most important.”