Lewis Hamilton jokes about Max Verstappen as Charles Leclerc speaks out

Max Verstappen was slapped with a reprimand following qualifying at the 2023 Singapore GP last weekend.

Lewis Hamilton was in good spirits on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, where he’s searching for a 197th career podium.

The seven-time World Champion was joined by Sergio Perez in the pre-weekend drivers’ press conference, where Max Verstappen’s reprimand from the Singapore Grand Prix was discussed.

Verstappen was investigated for three cases of impeding at the Marina Bay Circuit last weekend, one of which should have resulted in a three-place grid penalty.

Controversially, the reigning World Champion only received a reprimand, whilst Red Bull were fined for poor communication.

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The FIA have since been criticised for being inconsistent, something Hamilton was asked about ahead of this weekend.

Hamilton joked with Perez over the incidents, one of which involved Verstappen stopping at the end of the pit-lane for several seconds.

Perez had “nothing to say” on the matter, something which made Hamilton smile, before the Mercedes driver asked: “Are you sure? You always have an opinion on things!”

“Not on this one, I pass it to you,” Perez jokingly replied to Hamilton.

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“Are you allowed to park at the end of the pit lane on the way out?” Hamilton asked in response, with Perez replying: “Not wait for that long, but it’s something that probably in the future we’re allowed now.”

Whilst Hamilton was more than happy to joke about the matter, he went onto admit that he didn’t see any of Verstappen’s potential impeding incidents.

“I didn’t really see them,” admitted Hamilton.

“I obviously was in the pit lane when everyone stopped and I couldn’t see what was happening up ahead.

“And we always work as close as we can with the FIA to have consistency and there is some variation, so we have to continue to work on it for sure.”

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Charles Leclerc was one driver who was “surprised” by the FIA’s lack of action over Verstappen’s impeding incidents, with the Monegasque now afraid that the governing body’s leniency will “open” bad situations in the future.

“Yeah, I was a bit surprised,” Leclerc said. “Especially the one in the pit lane, because that could open quite bad situations in the future.

“But again, as we’ve said, it’s always an open discussion with the FIA. trying to explain to them what our point of view is and improve and I’m sure we’ll have that discussion tomorrow evening [in the drivers’ briefing].”