‘They puff their chests out’: Ex-F1 champion backtracks on Max Verstappen criticism

Max Verstappen completed the bulk of Saturday's sprint race with significant damage to his RB19 after contact with George Russell.

1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill changed his outlook on George Russell’s collision with Max Verstappen after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix had finished, with the Briton having at first taken a swipe at Verstappen for the incident.

Russell and Verstappen collided on the opening lap of Saturday’s sprint race, with the Mercedes driver having locked-up on the inside of the Red Bull driver at Turn 2, before understeering into the side of him.

The collision was a costly one for the Dutchman, who sustained significant damage to his floor and left sidepod.

He still went on to finish the sprint in third ahead of Russell but was far from happy with his fellow 25-year-old, who he waited for in parc ferme.

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Verstappen vented his anger at the Briton before calling him a “di*khead” on live TV, whilst Russell started to walk away.

At first Hill sided with Russell over the incident and stated that Verstappen believes he’s “always right”.

“It’s racing. If [Verstappen] wanted to stay out of trouble he should have got pole position. It is the default mindset of someone like Max that they are always right,” Hill told Sky Sports F1 after the incident.

Following the Grand Prix, though, Hill’s view on the collision changed, with him having decided that damaging another car whilst overtaking is “a bit too much”.

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“Since they’ve made the cars more robust, contact is seen as more acceptable,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

“But when you go into someone else’s sidepod and damage their aero and potentially put them out of the race, that is probably a bit too much. I would like to see less contact but it’s difficult to ask people to provide entertaining racing and not take any risks.

“Taking a risk implies that there will be times when it doesn’t work. But I don’t think it should be encouraged, trying to get them to barge into each other.”

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The former driver also wasn’t too concerned by Verstappen’s public rant at Russell immediately after the sprint, with him labelling it as “playground stuff”.

“[It was] playground stuff,” Hill insisted.

“They’re young lads, 25 years old, and they have fought in these competitions all their lives. They make it known that they’re not to be messed with. They can’t be the guy that gets rolled over so they puff their chests out from time to time.”