Max Verstappen says his rivals can talk all they like during Friday's drivers' briefing at the German Grand Prix, but he won't be pressured into apologising for the clash with Kimi Raikkonen during last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman has taken flak all week after his defensive display not only kept the 2007 world champion at bay, but also saw Raikkonen's Ferrari lose a part of its front wing as the pair came together in the closing stages of the race in Budapest. The Finn's complaints over the radio as they continued to battle over fifth place were echoed in Germany by McLaren veterans Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, with both claiming that Verstappen moved more times than is acceptable in his bid to hold position and the Briton saying that Red Bull's new star was driving in a manner that showed little regard for safety.
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Verstappen, however, shrugged off the criticism in what has become his customary laissez-faire
way, insisting that he has nothing to be sorry for.
“I don't need to defend myself because I am confident and I think that I didn't do anything wrong,” he stressed, “They can talk to me its fine. [There's] no pressure. They can talk, that's alright.”
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The Dutch teenager finished the afternoon session at Hockenheim fourth on the timesheets after edging Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo with his lap of 1m 16.456s. The Red Bull pair split the Ferraris in the session, something they had been unable to do before lunch, and Verstappen is confident that the two teams will be battling for the remainder of the weekend, even if Mercedes appears to remain out of reach.
“We knew that [Ferrari] would come close to us, as it's a better track for them in general, but we're not too far off from Mercedes,” he noted, “It was a pretty good day for me – for the first time [at Hockenheim] in an F1 car, I think it went quite smoothly. As you could see, [there was] a lot of front locking so, hopefully, we can get rid of that tomorrow, but I think it was a positive day, getting used to the track, the car…
“The second session was good, [with] progress from the first one and, I think, pretty decent long runs. I am looking forward to tomorrow. There is some room for improvement, but I think everybody has that. Everybody knows it is quite hard on tyres here, but it was pretty straightforward. We need a lot of luck to win the race but, if we can be close, we can be happy.”
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