Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Verstappen won’t hold back in combat despite growing points lead over Hamilton

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen is not tempted to dial down his uncompromising approach to wheel-to-wheel combat despite his growing lead in the championship.

The Red Bull driver arrives in Mexico at the head of the standings, 12 points clear of Lewis Hamilton. But he said that won’t factor be a factor in how he tackles the race.

“Not really, my approach will be the same as the whole year,” said Verstappen. “I always try to score the most available points out there, I always have, like Lewis does, like everyone else does. Of course you always try to keep it clean.”

The pair have tangled twice already this year. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff recently predicted the championship fight could end in a collision between the pair, as happened with drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in previous years.

Verstappen said he isn’t dwelling on that possibility. “I don’t really think about previous historic fights between two drivers, what they have done, that’s the past.

“I just focus on what I have to do on-track, of course, and that’s to try and do the best I can. That’s how, at the end of the day you’re going to win the championship, to try and get the most available points out there and of course beat your rival.”

As he heads into the final five races with the upper hand, Verstappen said he’s having no trouble staying relaxed and focused.

“I like what I’m doing so that takes the pressure off,” he said. “It’s not the first time I’ve been in a championship fight. Yes, it’s the first time in Formula 1 but not in my life.

“So at the end of the day that doesn’t really change because you need to win and that’s what I have been doing in the past as well so I need to try to do the same here. When the car is capable to win I’ll win. When the car is not capable of winning I won’t win.”

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2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Verstappen won’t hold back in combat despite growing points lead over Hamilton”

  1. “When the car is capable to win I’ll win. When the car is not capable of winning I won’t win.”

    Blatant truth, but does undermine all hard earned championship. Should not be saying this, especially when he potentially could be earning a very hard championship this year.

    1. Actually it doesn’t undermine all hard earned championships.

      There are many drivers that don’t win with a capable car. Lewis, Bottas, Max and Sergio all had a capable car over this season. 3 of these 4 drivers will not have won.

    2. So what he is saying is, Its the Car?

      1. I think he’s saying what is obvious. When the car is good enough I’m a good enough driver to win. Put Bottas in my car and he’ll end up near 6-7th.

      2. Carl We have known for decades the car is 80% to 95% of it depending on the expert you ask. And ask yourself how many times we have seen proven WDCs suddenly unable to win when the car isn’t there, or on the other side a driver who hasn’t been winning much suddenly starts winning once the car comes good. Not to pick on LH at all but here was a proven winner and Champion that had one title until he went to Mercedes, and what was it, one win in 2013 I think, and then look what he did in 2014 onward. He didn’t just suddenly remember how to win again in 2014. Similarly Vettel didn’t suddenly forget how to win in 2014 after his four year run between 2010 and 2013 at RBR.

        1. @robbie

          Not to pick on LH at all but here was a proven winner and Champion that had one title until he went to Mercedes, and what was it, one win in 2013 I think, and then look what he did in 2014 onward. He didn’t just suddenly remember how to win again in 2014. Similarly Vettel didn’t suddenly forget how to win in 2014 after his four year run between 2010 and 2013 at RBR.

          Yeah, with the difference that Hamilton never suffered huge blows in performance when not in a dominant car (this is even more true for Alonso, who never had a fully dominant car in first place, but some top-tier ones and almost all forms of mediocre machinery), whilst Vettel in 2014 really dropped the ball despite the car being hard to handle, being outclassed in every meaningful way by Ricciardo, much like Ric himself in the the first two-thirds of his current season with McLaren.

    3. He’s saying it in the context of the rest of the article – he’s not bothered about Lewis and will simply try to finish as high as possible. If the car is capable of winning, that’s his goal. If the car isn’t capable of winning, he’ll finish as high as possible (as opposed to trying to take Lewis out etc)

      1. @petebaldwin

        He’s saying it in the context of the rest of the article

        Pretty much, this sort of stances are easy to take out of the context and people will dwell into something that could not be the case. Or maybe Max will use the “they’re faster than us” excuse sometime in the future after getting too used to a top-tier car, unlike he did in the recent past. Who knows what can be.

  2. When the car is capable to win I’ll win. When the car is not capable of winning I won’t win.

    That statement is not true, Max, we’ve seen your driving cost you wins in a car that was capable on winning. It’s also not true because the car wasn’t capable of winning on track in Austin but the team won the race (masterfully) with pit strategy.

    1. You’re taking the comment too literally. Max is just talking about the objective. If the car is capable of winning then he’ll try his best to win, and if not then then he’ll try to finish as high up as he can – pretty common sense really. And if you continue the literally angle – any car that wins a race must have been capable of winning, they just need different sets of circumstances for that to be true. Max is speaking generally and considering Redbull vs Mercedes. If Mercedes has a few tenths advantage and don’t have any major issues then Max has to do damage limitation and settle for less than a win.

      Any car could technically be ‘capable’ of winning, like Alpine did in Hungary, but that’s not what Max is talking about.

    2. @keithedin True

      The Dolphins It is obviously not true that the car wasn’t capable of winning on the track so I’m not sure where you got that from unless you bought into the hype that this was a Mercedes track. As was analyzed about the race win Max won because of a combination of team strategy, tire wear and usage, particularly the rears, and Max’s driving. Frankly I had bought into it being a Mercedes stronghold too which is why I found it such a nail biter in the last stint as I was quite worried Max would not be able to hold LH off in the remaining laps due to the tire age difference.

      1. @robbie

        Frankly I had bought into it being a Mercedes stronghold too which is why I found it such a nail biter in the last stint as I was quite worried Max would not be able to hold LH off in the remaining laps due to the tire age difference.

        In the end Mercedes and Red Bull were evenly matched in Austin, what was a nice surprise, specially considering what happened in the most recent rounds, a beckon of Mercedes dominance.

  3. Funny to read that Max’s style is uncompromising.

    1. Ruben

      Funny to read that Max’s style is uncompromising.

      Intended to be discretly demeaning really, even though it doesn’t bother Max at all, he can twist the interlocutor’s intention and take that as a compliment instead. The most funny part is that Lewis is the “calm and experienced hand” according to those on that media.

  4. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

    F1 ads on social media and YT are stoking this like it’s ad ultimate fighting match. Maybe Liberty will make the weigh-ins like in boxing where they have to stare at each other like two rutting deer.

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