Max Verstappen fires Lewis Hamilton shot while criticising George Russell

Max Verstappen couldn't resist firing a shot at Lewis Hamilton after clashing with George Russell at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen certainly wasn’t a happy driver after Saturday’s sprint race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, due to him having completed the vast majority of the sprint with floor and sidepod damage.

The Dutchman’s RB19 became wounded on the opening lap of the sprint following contact with George Russell at Turn 2, after the Mercedes driver locked-up on the inside of Verstappen.

Russell interestingly got ahead of Verstappen for third after the pair collided, only for the Red Bull driver to reclaim the spot a few laps later.

Despite having regained the spot, Verstappen was absolutely furious with Russell, resulting in some interesting dialogue with his team.

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“He tagged me,” Verstappen informed his team immediately after the collision. “I can also pass like that if I keep turning into the side.”

Verstappen’s anger only worsened after he was informed that he had floor damage.

“Did he really drive into the side of me?” Verstappen asked. “I don’t understand how you can keep the position when he’s damaging my car. It’s bloody ridiculous.”

Russell did indeed keep the position for a few laps, with the stewards having not investigated the collision.

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As a result of his damage, Verstappen was unable to really challenge Sergio Perez or Charles Leclerc, with his focus having seemingly remained on making Russell aware just how angry he was.

The two-time World Champion waited for Russell in parc ferme after the sprint, where he was then heard letting the Mercedes driver know exactly how he felt.

Verstappen went on to call Russell a “di*khead” on live TV, whilst the Mercedes driver was walking away from him.

The Red Bull driver’s rant didn’t end there, though, with him having then taken aim at Mercedes as a team in general, who he believes find it “hard to not hit a Red Bull car”.

“We definitely got through the corner without him hitting the inside barrier,” Verstappen said after the sprint.

“So I think I did leave enough space, but I think apparently it’s hard to not hit a Red Bull car, I guess, for them,” he added, firing a shot at Lewis Hamilton.

Russell gave his own view on the collision after the sprint, where the 25-year-old noted that Verstappen took a “totally unnecessary” risk of defending on the outside on the opening lap at a street track.

“I saw he had quite an impact with the wall,” Russell said.

“I think after turn three he ran a bit wide. But as I said – you’re on the outside, you’re taking the risk. And on a street circuit like this, lap one and with his pace, it’s totally unnecessary.

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“I’ve not actually watched the video back, so I don’t know what the views are from your side and from television, but from within the car, it was my corner.

“As I said, I’ve not reviewed it fully yet. If Max was on the inside and I was trying to hold the position, he would have done the same, if not worse. So that’s part of racing.”

Whilst Verstappen has every right to be frustrated with the collision, many have criticised him for his public outburst at Russell, with many having labelled the Dutch driver as a “hypocrite” given that he too has sent it down the inside of the likes of Lewis Hamilton on multiple occasions.