Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton says he is more wary about racing wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen as he feels the Red Bull driver is a “magnet” to incidents.

Hamilton and Verstappen clashed at the start of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix as they arrived into Turn 2 side-by-side, with both drivers forced to take to the grass in order to avoid a full-on collision while battling over third place.

Hamilton recovered from fifth to take a brilliant victory following a bold strategy gamble by Mercedes, while Verstappen suffered a puncture in a separate collision with Valtteri Bottas just a handful of laps after making contact with Hamilton.

Speaking in the post-race drivers’ press conference, Hamilton joked that he knew he was going to be “torpedoed” by Verstappen.

“I think every driver is slightly different,” Hamilton explained when asked how he approaches racing with Verstappen.

“Some are smarter; some are like very smart, aggressive and some are silly with it. And so, through those experiences of racing with people, you give some more space and others you don’t have to. They’re quite respectful.

“But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do.

“But as I said, in my experience, I didn’t have a lot of space to give him extra space. But I don’t think it was intentional or anything like that.

“It was just… he’s a magnet for those kind of things but yeah, nonetheless, I managed to keep the car together and in a straight line, fortunately.”

Asked if he shared the same opinion as Hamilton, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished second in Mexico City, replied: “Yes and yes.

When pressed further to expand on his answer, Vettel added: “No, just copy-paste. It’s true.”

But Verstappen’s Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was quick to play down the incidents and defended his driver.

“It’s hard racing with Lewis, they were both racing hard, and that’s what it’s all about,” Horner said.

“The move with Bottas was a tough one because arguably he’d done the pass, he got clipped on the way out of the corner with Valtteri’s front wing, so it was just unlucky.

“Some days that can go for you, some days it can go against you.”

 

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