Ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton said he believes Verstappen “feels perhaps he has a lot to prove” in their title fight given the pair have had several near-misses in wheel-to-wheel combat during the first four races of the season.

Verstappen responded by rejecting Hamilton’s claim, insisting he has nothing to prove. Hamilton, who is going for a record eighth world title this year, currently holds a 14-point championship lead over the Red Bull driver.

F1 | 5 Monaco GP liveries | Monaco GP

And Red Bull team principal Horner reckons Hamilton’s remarks indicate that Verstappen may be getting under the seven-time world champion’s skin.

“Lewis loves all that rubbish,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “So just let him get on with it.

“I think Max does his own thing, he is his own man. You can see, the fact that Lewis feels he needs to do that means that actually Max is probably getting under his skin a little.

“I think that it is great, it is part of the sport. We're only at the beginning of the championship. You know, we're not even anywhere near halfway yet.

“So can you imagine what it'd be like by the time, if they're that close, going into the last few races.”

Hamilton and Verstappen have so far managed to keep their battles clean but McLaren CEO Zak Brown recently said he feels it is only a matter of time before the two come together on track.

While Horner acknowledged that tensions will escalate as the title race heats up, he praised the “exemplary” driving between Hamilton and Verstappen to date.

“I would think Zak is praying for that, to capitalise,” said Horner. “You’ve got two guys that are racing hard against each other and, on my calculations, Max has now passed Lewis three times to Lewis’ once in the race, and they are racing hard.

“And as the championship runs on, tensions and pressure will inevitably grow. I don’t think it’s the intention of either driver to have a collision with each other and I think the racing we have seen so far has been exemplary.”