Max Verstappen reacts to Lewis Hamilton’s claim he may have ‘a problem’ with him

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the post-race press conference. Mexico October 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and race winner Max Verstappen in the post-race press conference. Mexico October 2022

Max Verstappen has said he has “no issues with anyone” on the Formula 1 grid, responding to a recent interview from Lewis Hamilton in which he wondered if the Dutchman has a “problem” with him.

Much has been made of the relationship between the two drivers after their titanic title battle in the 2021 season, particularly in the aftermath of the key flashpoints when they made contact at Silverstone and Monza, as well as their battles in Brazil and Saudi Arabia which saw the limits pushed as they jostled for the lead.

The fallout surrounding how the title was eventually decided was mostly aimed towards the FIA from Mercedes’ direction, but the two were mostly kept apart on track last year as Mercedes struggled off the pace for much of the year.

Hamilton and Verstappen did collide at Interlagos, however, with the Mercedes driver saying at the end of the year he feels like “a bit of a target” for his Red Bull rival.

But through it all, the Briton said he still has respect for Verstappen on track, though he was unsure whether or not the feeling would be mutual.

“People like to talk about there being problems between Max and me,” he said in an interview with Formule 1 Magazine in the Netherlands. but believes it’s “fairytales” that it would be the case.

“I respect him,” Hamilton added, “he is a lot younger, so maybe he has a problem with me, but I am not sure about that and I actually assume not. Although I can’t speak for him.”

Verstappen was then asked about the subject after Red Bull launched the RB19 livery in New York, and in response, he was quick to bat away the idea he has an issue with the seven-time World Champion, citing the all-driver dinner at the season finale in November to celebrate Sebastian Vettel’s career.

“I have no issues with anyone,” Verstappen told reporters.

“We had that dinner in Abu Dhabi, we had a laugh with everyone, we all had a good time so that’s okay.”

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Could Max Verstappen – Lewis Hamilton rivalry reignite in 2023?

Of course, we won’t know whether or not we can expect another title fight between the two until more is known about the pace of the 2023 cars once they start running in Bahrain later this month in pre-season testing.

But with Mercedes having made significant gains over the course of 2022 and relatively stable regulations, they seem relatively likely to be closer to Red Bull and Ferrari than they were at the beginning of last year.

Whether or not that translates into another title fight remains to be seen, but if the two get together on track more often this season, even if they are fighting in the lower reaches of the points, it’s unlikely that either will give much quarter.