Ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton was asked if he felt the pressure of the title fight was affecting Verstappen after the pair crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix last time out. 

The seven-time world champion said he could “empathise” with his main rival having lived through the same experience earlier in his career amid a fierce battle against then McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for the 2007 world title.

“Obviously he won’t admit to it and I’m not going to make an assumption,” Hamilton said.

“But I remember what it was like, when I had my first one, and it definitely mounted up. It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions, I didn’t always handle it the best.

“And that’s to be expected. There’s a lot of pressure from you working in a big team, there’s a lot of self expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge. So, I empathise and understand that.”

When informed of Hamilton’s comments and asked for a response later in Thursday’s press conferences, Verstappen sarcasticly quipped: “Yeah, I’m so nervous I can barely sleep. I mean, it’s so horrible, to fight for a title. I really hate it. Yeah.

“No, I think if someone knows me, I think I’m very relaxed about all those things and I really can’t be bothered, I’m very chilled.

“It’s the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you go into every weekend and then you can fight for a win. It doesn’t matter if you’re just leading a championship or not.

“I think, those comments, I mean, it just shows you that he really doesn’t know me – which is fine. I mean I also don’t need to know him, how he is, fully.

“I just focus on myself, and I really enjoy it out there out front, and hopefully of course we can do that for a very long time.”

Hamilton said after the Monza collision that he was “surprised” Verstappen had walked away without checking on his condition after the Red Bull driver’s car landed on top of his, striking the Briton’s helmet.

But Verstappen, who labelled Hamilton’s post-British Grand Prix victory celebrations as “disrespectful” while he was in hospital for precautionary checks, says he thinks people were hypocritical.

“I mean there are a lot of hypocrites in the world that’s for sure,” Verstappen said. “I mean I jumped out of the car, I looked to the left and he’s of course still trying to reverse, shaking the wheel, trying to get under away under my car so I think he was absolutely fine.

“Also flying to America on Monday or Tuesday to attend a Gala I think you only do that if you feel fine so I think already there, everything was all under control.”

Asked whether he would consider changing his approach to racing Hamilton wheel-to-wheel in future given the championship picture, Verstappen replied: "I think it goes both ways, doesn’t it? It’s not only me when we are racing each other.”

And in response to continued questions about whether he believes their rivalry could turn nasty, Verstappen said: “Not from my side, I’m pretty calm and chilled about everything. It’s more the questions I keep getting about it.

“I think we’re all professional enough to leave this behind in Monza and just continue again here in Sochi, and the races after that.”