Hamilton said before the Monaco Grand Prix weekend he had “done well” to avoid colliding with Verstappen in their wheel-to-wheel battles during the first four races of the season, adding the Red Bull driver “feels perhaps he has a lot to prove”.

Verstappen responded by insisting he has “nothing to prove” with his aggressive moves on Hamilton in the early part of what is shaping up to be an intense title battle between the pair in 2021.

But it was Dutchman who had the last laugh in Monaco as he claimed a maiden win in the principality while Hamilton could only manage seventh.

The result meant Verstappen overturned a 14-point deficit to move into the lead of the world championship for the first time in his career.

And Verstappen quipped his points lead shows “actions always speak louder than words” in what appeared to be a cheeky dig at Hamilton’s pre-race remarks.

“I’m not playing mind games,” said Hamilton, who now trails Verstappen by four points heading into the forthcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It’s interesting what Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] comes out with but… I couldn’t care less haha.

“They did a great job this weekend, and that’s that. We’ve had some good races also. But as I said there are 17 races to go.

“It’s childish in the end when you start getting into a war of words.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the escalating rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen on and off the track is great entertainment for F1.

“It’s great that we have a fight between two outstanding drivers and the championship has swung in both directions,” Wolff said.

“Things are being said that are good for entertainment and I would attribute that sentence to the entertainment factor, which is great to talk about it and write about it.

“This is action on the track and soap [opera] off the track.”