Lewis Hamilton has revealed he called Max Verstappen following their collision at the British Grand Prix earlier this season and insists his relationship with the Red Bull driver has not changed despite the pressure of their world championship battle.
Hamilton and Verstappen have been involved in two incidents on the track this year, with both drivers crashing out at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
It came just weeks after Hamilton and Verstappen touched on the opening lap Silverstone, sending the Dutchman into the wall at high speed.
Tensions were high after the race as Hamilton celebrated a home victory while Verstappen was taken to hospital, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner calling the seven-time world champion an “amateur” for the move.
The incident led to the pair’s crash at Monza, where Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty, but Hamilton says his relationship with the 24-year-old is “respectful” and maintains there were no hard feelings after the British Grand Prix.
“I called him after Silverstone,” Hamilton told ESPN. “I don’t mean to be patronising, but I am much older. I’m much older and it was important for me to call and to be able to break the ice.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that when I was 25. I don’t hold any hostility against him. I feel he’s a tremendous talent and I am enjoying racing with him. Do I agree with everything he does? It doesn’t even matter.
“What matters is that he does him and he will learn, and all I can control is what I do and how I handle things. Whatever happens at the end of the year we are going to be shaking hands and we will be back to fight again the next year.”
Hamilton leads Verstappen by two points with seven races of the season remaining, with the title race heading to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend.
The Mercedes driver says he will do his best to avoid any further collisions with Verstappen over the closing stages of the season, even if he held the lead in the drivers standings heading into the final race of the year.
“There’s never ever a question about that,” Hamilton said. “I would never want to win in that way. If that means you don’t win at all, at least you have your dignity. I wouldn’t want to win any other way; you always want to win the right way.
“I love racing, I love fighting for the championship and, of course, at the end of the year that’s what I’ve been working for, so you can’t say you are not going to be disappointed if you don’t achieve what you are trying to achieve with the group of people you are trying to achieve it with.”