Red Bull’s Verstappen was speaking about last year’s title fight with Hamilton and this season’s battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and was comparing his personal relationship with his two rival drivers.

Verstappen edged Hamilton to win his first championship last year and holds a 63-point lead over Leclerc this season ahead of the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix. Leclerc led Lando Norris in the first Practice session.

"I prefer what we have now,” Verstappen told Sky Italia. 

“Because, first of all, Charles I know very well, he's a nice guy, we are a similar age - I think we are only three weeks apart.

"I think also we are fighting a very well-respected competitor in terms of Ferrari. The way they go about the way we are fighting… when they win a race we can go to them and say well done, and when we win a race they can say well done, and I really respect that.

"Also, certain people within the team, even [team principal Mattia Binotto], I have a really good relationship with him.

"On Saturday night, we even had a laugh in Paul Ricard, and I think that's great because that's what racing should be about. We are hard competitors on the track and we will always try to beat each other, which I think is very normal, but outside of it you can have a good time as well, and that's what I really enjoy about this year.

"Let's say it like this, I would not be on a table on Saturday night having a laugh with [Mercedes]."

Comparing his relationship with Ferrari and Mercedes, Verstappen said: "Just the click we have at the moment with the team, and I have a lot of respect for Ferrari in general."

Verstappen comments about Hamilton are "disappointing"

Those comments left Sky pundit Herbert surprised.

“It should have been respectful last year as well,” Herbert said on Sky. “And clearly, it wasn’t.

He added about Verstappen’s full quotes: "(It was) disappointing actually in many respects.

"He seems to sort of just dismissed Lewis straight away, and then he was straight onto Charles and Ferrari the battle they're having.

"I thought he was enjoying the battle they were having on track (last season), but clearly there, he wasn't enjoying it at all.

"But I don't understand why his comments would be so negative towards Lewis and the battle that they had last year. I'm quite perplexed."