Lewis Hamilton claims Max Verstappen is ‘targeting’ him

Lewis Hamilton believes he is targeted due to the records he boasts in Formula 1.

Lewis Hamilton was perhaps unsurprised to be involved in a collision with Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend, a venue where for the first time this season Mercedes were the fastest.

Hamilton and Verstappen have largely avoided each other in 2022, mainly because the Silver Arrows haven’t had a car capable of fighting for victories.

Their collision at Interlagos resulted in Verstappen being awarded a five-second time penalty and two penalty points; however, the impact arguably affected Hamilton more than the Red Bull driver.

On Lap Seven, following a Safety Car restart, Verstappen reacted better than second-place Hamilton and attempted to go around the outside of the 37-year-old at the opening corner.

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Verstappen did get some of his car ahead but slipped back behind Hamilton as they flicked right down the hill for Turn Two.

Due to being in front, Hamilton opted for the racing line, which resulted in the door being rapidly closed on Verstappen.

The 25-year-old decided to remain on the inside in the rapidly shrinking gap, which ended up in the Dutchman going over the kerbs and into the side of his rival.

Verstappen suffered a broken front-wing as a result and dropped to the foot of the field, but still managed to finish third.

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Hamilton suffered minor floor damage and fell outside the top five, before rescuing second place.

Ahead of this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi, which, of course, is where Hamilton brutally lost the 2021 title, the seven-time World Champion was asked if himself and Verstappen will be involved in more incidents going forward, something he predicts as “likely”.

“Most likely. I think I’ll adapt,” replied Hamilton.

“You’ve seen in previous years that I try to avoid [contact] in scenarios.

“I’m sure we’ll grow, both sides will grow and improve hopefully so we don’t have experiences like we did in the last race, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

A reporter went on to ask the Briton if he is perhaps a target for Verstappen due to his unparalleled success, given that statistically, Hamilton is the greatest F1 driver of all-time.

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Hamilton thinks this is the case, but that the feeling is “natural”, having been the same himself at the start of his career.

“I think yeah, you’re probably right,” answered the Mercedes driver.

“I remember when I first got to the sport and your target is the guy that has the most championships. It was Fernando (Alonso), then it was Kimi (Raikkonen), because Kimi was one of the best drivers here, and then it was Seb (Vettel), so I think it’s natural.”