Verstappen was heavily booed by sections of the crowd when he appeared during the Sky F1 Show on Thursday evening, and was again jeered after qualifying second behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz

The Red Bull driver said he found the booing “a bit disappointing because I couldn’t really understand Billy [Monger, who was conducting the post-qualifying interviews].”

"If they want to boo, they do that,” Verstappen continued. “I’m always happy to be here, it's a great track, a great atmosphere in general.

"Maybe some of them don't like me, that’s fine, they all have their own opinions. I don't care.”

While Verstappen said he accepts that some fans don’t like him, Lewis Hamilton disagreed with the reaction and asked his supporters not to boo despite their fierce 2021 rivalry that concluded in a hugely controversial title showdown in Abu Dhabi

"I think we’re better than that,” said the seven-time world champion, who was on the receiving end of booing from Verstappen’s fans at the Hungarian and Dutch grands prix last year.

“I would say we don’t need to do the booing. We have such great fans, our sporting fans feel emotions up and down, but I definitely don’t agree with booing. I don’t think we need to do that. I think we should be here pushing everybody. 

"It doesn’t make any difference when you boo someone, they’ve already made the mistake, or whatever it is. But I really do appreciate the support I have here. Maybe some of them are still feeling the pain from last year, still.” 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also condemned the “unsportsmanlike” behaviour towards Verstappen. 

"I think we shouldn’t be seeing any booing in any sports,” he said. “I think that’s unsportsmanlike. 

“It’s clear we love the support the drivers have here and the enthusiasm, that’s fantastic. But if you are not into the other guys I think it’s best to remain silent. I think that’s the best way. 

“The booing, I think none of the drivers deserve booing, no matter what happened last year.” 

Asked if he feels more could be done to combat such abuse, Wolff replied: “I think if you try to see the positives, that people are very emotional about drivers and characters. 

“We want to create emotions, rather than if you are not emotionally engaged. So that’s on the upside. But having said that, the booing goes a step further. 

“If you imagine yourself standing out there and giving an interview or while being on the podium, being booed is abusive. 

“Being emotional in a sport that is controversial because you are a fan and not a fan of one or the other drivers, that’s good. But there’s a certain limit that we shouldn’t overstep.”