Lewis Hamilton has apologised to Max Verstappen in an attempt to defuse their ongoing row following last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton called the 20-year-old Dutchman a “d***head”, and also claimed his immaturity was costing Red Bull dearly this season.
Speaking before Hamilton in Shanghai on Thursday, Verstappen accused Formula One’s defending champion of pinning the blame on him for their lap-two collision in the desert because he is young.
“It is quite simple and easy to blame the younger driver and that is the only way I can see it,” said Verstappen. “Why should I change something? I don’t think I did anything wrong in terms of my approach.”
But Hamilton, who spoke eloquently about the coming together in Bahrain, later revealed he apologised to Verstappen in the smoggy Shanghai paddock ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“Just as we were completing the fans’ signing session I shook his hand and I said, ‘Look, I am sorry about the last race’,” Hamilton, who is 13 years Verstappen’s senior, said.
“It is good to show respect, and regardless if I am the older driver – in fact it being more important that I am the older driver – I felt it was important that I went to him.
“If it was his fault, or my fault, it doesn’t really matter as it is now in the past.
“Hopefully that sign of respect by me shows we can turn the page, move forward in racing each other, because that is important between us drivers.”
Hamilton, who heads into the third round of the championship 17 points adrift of rival Sebastian Vettel, was last Sunday caught on camera taking aim at Verstappen.
In the green room before the podium celebrations, Hamilton made his outburst as he viewed footage of his collision with Verstappen.
And the defending champion has now revealed he will think twice about his immediate post-race conduct following the fall-out.
“I will be more cautious,” Hamilton said, with a laugh. “I have been pretty good in all these years, and that was the first time I forgot the camera was there.
“Imagine being in a scenario where your senses are heightened and your emotions are running crazy. You are infuriated, but yet you’re excited on an adrenalin rush, and then somebody puts a microphone in your face.
“You are probably not going to answer as calmly as you would under normal circumstances, but people judge you on that moment and you don’t feel great.
“But it is good in sport to see some emotion, and if you go to a hockey game, they don’t mind that there are punch-ups. In NASCAR races there are punch-ups too, but jeez, if we had a punch-up here, your career would be over.”
Asked if he had ever come close to fisticuffs during his 12-season stint in F1, a jovial Hamilton said: “I have. Yes. I am not going to tell you when it was, but I still feel today I should have (followed through) and I wish I did. I so badly wish I did, but the time passed and it didn’t happen.”
Who was the driver? Hamilton’s old foe Nico Rosberg, perhaps? Unsurprisingly the Briton chose not to answer.