Verstappen: I 'honestly don't understand' Hamilton clashes

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Max Verstappen says he really doesn't know why he clashes so frequently with Lewis Hamilton on the track, compared to his other rivals such as Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, and team mate Sergio Perez

Verstappen and Hamilton were engaged in an intense and at times ill-tempered fight for the 2021 championship that went all the way to the last corner of the final race in Abu Dhabi.

But even in 2022 when Verstappen romped to his second title with Red Bull and Hamilton laboured in an underperforming Mercedes, the pair still managed to collide on the few occasions they were running close together.

Verstappen had no such issue with Leclerc, with whom he had a long history of competing against going back to their karting days.

"I have to be careful what I’m saying here," Verstappen told in an exclusive interview this week."With everyone I’ve been fighting this year, it’s been really hard, aggressive battles.

"[But] we never really came together," he acknowledged. “Somehow with Lewis it’s a different story, and I honestly don’t understand.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari with race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in parc ferme. 23.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race

"This year, okay we haven’t really had a lot of battles but Brazil we got together," he continued. "It wasn't my intention [but] I got the blame for it, which I didn’t find fair.

"If it would’ve been more of a racing incident, that I could live with," he said. At the time it looked like neither driver was willing to compromise through the corner, leading to a collision.

But Verstappen has has similarly high pressure moments with other drivers and avoided making contact, leading some to suggest that the way he approaches Hamilton is different.

"I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different to Lewis or to the other drivers in terms of how we’re racing," he insisted. "Maybe it’s just a generation thing.

“Of course everyone is different in their approach. I know that Charles is a bit different to George, or to Carlos or to Checo or whoever.

"The day before with George, we were having an incredible [battle for the lead of the sprint race] - closing the door, defending, out-braking each other.

“That was a lot of fun," he said. "I was trying to do the same in the main race [with Lewis], having that kind of battle. But unfortunately we couldn’t get it to work.

Verstappen acknowledged that when it came to racing his contemporaries, maybe it was "that we understand each other better, we are racing nicer to each other."

Asked why he felt he had to be "careful" about his comments regarding Hamilton, Verstappen explained: "In England this can very quickly be received as criticism, and then I’m being called out on it.

"Immediately it’s really taken as criticism, and then people start to hate on you. [But] that’s not my intention.

“I always respect Lewis a lot for what he has achieved in the sport," he insisted. "But that’s why I don’t really understand why we cannot really race like I’ve been doing with the others.

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