Max Verstappen has continued his war of words with the Mercedes team ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, mocking Red Bull’s rivals for a “pretty s*** race” at Monza last time out.
Verstappen took a record 10th successive victory in Italy as he edges ever closer to a third straight World Championship, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton keen to discredit the Red Bull driver’s achievement.
Ahead of the race at Monza, Hamilton appeared to question the quality of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mates over the years, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff claiming the Dutchman’s record win was a statistic only relevant on Wikipedia.
Max Verstappen hits back at graceless Mercedes
Mercedes and Red Bull have had a tense relationship since the bitter 2021 season, when Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the World Championship in highly controversial circumstances at the infamous title decider in Abu Dhabi.
And speaking in the FIA press conference in Singapore on Thursday, Verstappen could not resist the opportunity to bite back at Mercedes – pointing to the team’s poor performance at Monza where Hamilton finished more than 40 seconds behind his dominant Red Bull as both he and team-mate George Russell incurred time penalties.
Having entered the 2023 season with ambitions of returning to title contention, Mercedes were forced to redesign their W14 car after an alarming performance at the season opener in Bahrain and have shown only marginally improved performance in the months since a heavily revised chassis arrived in Monaco at the end of May.
Asked if he was disappointed by Wolff’s comments, he said: “I’m not disappointed in that, but they had a pretty s*** race so probably he was still pissed off with their performance.
“He almost sounds like he’s an employee of our team sometimes, you know? But no, luckily not.
“I think it’s just important that you focus on your own team. That’s what we do as well. That’s what we did in the past as well when we were behind them and when they were dominating, and I think you should be able to appreciate when a team is doing really well, which I think we’ve done in the past because it worked also as a kind of inspiration.
“To see someone that dominant was very impressive at the time and we knew that we just had to work harder, try to be better and try to get to that level.
“And now that we are there, we are very happy of course that we are there and we are enjoying the moment and honestly that’s all I can say about it.”
Verstappen’s latest bite at Wolff comes just weeks after the Mercedes team boss questioned the reason behind the World Champion’s pace advantage over team-mate Sergio Perez at Zandvoort, describing Perez’s 1.3-second deficit in qualifying at the Dutch GP venue as “odd, bizarre.”
“Bullsh*t comments,” Verstappen told media including PlanetF1.com on the insinuation that Red Bull provide him with better machinery. “It’s not like that.
“I mean, I just drive the car I get to the fastest way possible. I’m not there to tell the guys to give me more front end, because that’s how I like it. I’ll just say: ‘Design me the fastest car and I’ll drive around that.’
“Every single year it’s just different, every car drives a little bit different.
“People will say what is your driving style? My driving style is not something particular, I adapt to what I need for the car to go quick.”