Hamilton brands Verstappen ‘aggressive as hell’, claims he goes beyond the limit of racing

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen came together on a number of occasions as they contested the championship in 2021.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has assessed Max Verstappen’s driving style in the new season of Drive to Survive, and says his own style differs from some of the “bullies” he has raced with.

Hamilton and Verstappen went toe-to-toe in 2021 as they contested the championship in one of the most thrilling seasons in recent memory.

They often came together, most notably at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia, and the tension between them and their Mercedes and Red Bull teams reached fever pitch by the end of the year.

The 37-year-old describes his young rival as someone who is not afraid to go to the limit, and occasionally give it a nudge.

“I think Max is aggressive as hell. And more often than not, he pushes it to the limit and beyond,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve raced against a lot of drivers. There’s always bullies, but that’s not how I operate. I just try and beat them on track.”

In the end, the Dutchman claimed the championship following a highly controversial Safety Car restart by race director Michael Masi, passing the seven-time champion on the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It was a crushing, cruel blow for the man that had been leading for much of the race and, having exclaimed that the race had been “manipulated” on the final lap, he was quick to congratulate Verstappen after the chequered flag had fallen.

He then said “we’ll see about next year” before taking a lengthy break from social media, leading many to believe that he was strongly considering retirement.

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The 103-time race winner affirmed after the launch of the W13 that this was never going to happen, but conceded that the winter was not the easiest period for him.

“I never ever said I was going to stop. I love to do what I do,” he told reporters.

“It was a difficult time for me, a time where I really need to take a step back, focus on being present.

“I had my family around me, creating great moments and I eventually got to a point where I decided I was going to be attacking again for another season.”

With a brand-new set of technical regulations coming into play this season, the 37-year-old does not has a specific target for himself, but recognises that everyone at the team will want to extend their remarkable record and claim their ninth consecutive Constructors’ Championship.

“Going into this year, I haven’t really set any goals initially,” he added.

“Naturally every single individual within this team has worked towards the ultimate goal of winning the World Championship and again raising the bar and doing something that nobody has ever done before.

“We’ve done eight [consecutive Constructors’ titles], now we’ve got to move onto the next one.”

Hamilton has been joined by George Russell this season after the 24-year-old was drafted in from Williams to replace Alfa Romeo-bound Valtteri Bottas.