Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have never loved each other very much: the end of the 2021 F1 season, with the incredible last lap in Abu Dhabi and the title that ended up with the Dutchman, at the end of an endless series of melees, often even beyond the limit of the regulation, they determined the frost that now exists between the two, despite the professional courtesies.
In 2022, the difference in performance between Red Bull and Mercedes did not allow the two rivals to compete on equal terms with each other. Verstappen, speaking of what happened at Interlagos on the occasion of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in November, and of his British rival on Mercedes, told: "I have to be careful what I say, but with all the riders I've fought with this year it's been really hard and aggressive battles but never making contact.
Somehow, with Lewis it's a different story. And I honestly don't understand why. This year, for example, we have not had many duels. But in Brazil we clashed again and it was not my intention. I was blamed, which I did not find correct.
If it had been more than one racing incident, I could have accepted that. I always respect Lewis a lot for what he has achieved in the sport, but because of this I don't understand why we can't race like I did with others. Of course everyone has a different approach.
I know Charles Leclerc is a little different than George Russell or Carlos Sainz and Checo Perez, or anyone else. I have to be a little more careful with these things, because they are immediately interpreted as criticism. And then people start hating you.
Well, it's not that my i intention."
Verstappen became the youngest driver to win a Formula 1 world championship race, aged just 18 years, 7 months and 15 days. Furthermore, in 2022 he became the driver with the most victories in a season, 15, surpassing the previous record of 13, jointly held by the Germans Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
His racing number is 33, but from 2022 he has chosen to use the number 1 as reigning world champion. His father Jos competed in Formula 1, while his mother Sophie Kumpen, of Belgian nationality, raced as a kart driver. She is the niece of Paul Kumpen and cousin of Anthony Kumpen, who are also professional racing drivers.
Verstappen, who races under a Dutch licence, holds both Belgian and Dutch nationality and grew up in the Belgian town of Bree.