SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has made his peace with Max Verstappen and moved on from their collision in Bahrain last weekend.
The Mercedes driver told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix on Thursday that he had sought out the 20-year-old Red Bull driver and shaken hands.
“Being that I’m the older driver I felt that it was important that I went to him,” said the Briton.
“I just shook his hand and I was like, ‘Look I’m sorry about the last race.’
“Regardless if it is his fault or my fault, it’s in the past. Hopefully, that sign of respect shows a lot and helps you turn the page and move forwards.”
Verstappen earlier accused the four-times world champion of taking the easy option in blaming him for the collision at Sakhir, and said he would not be doing anything different in future.
Asked why he felt Hamilton had blamed him, the Dutch driver replied: “Why? Because it’s quite simple and easy to blame the younger driver. That’s the only way I can see it.”
The pair collided on the second lap of last Sunday’s floodlit race when the youngster dived down the inside of the 33-year-old in an attempt to take 10th position.
The impact punctured a tyre on Verstappen’s car, eventually damaging the gearbox and forcing him to retire. Hamilton finished third.
“You know, that’s racing,” said Verstappen comparing his move to a similar one he pulled off in Mexico last year on the way to victory.
“Why should I change something? I was just trying to overtake a car. Last year in Mexico it could have gone wrong as well, maybe for me, maybe for another car. As you could see... it didn’t,” he added.
“I don’t understand why everybody is on top of the topic because those things happen in racing.”
Verstappen has taken Formula One by storm since making his debut as a 17-year-old with the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso team in 2015.
His speed, aggression and racecraft have won him many admirers but also led to run-ins with rivals, most notably Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton had always spoken of the man he sees as a future champion in glowing terms, but was heard swearing in reference to him immediately after Sunday’s race.
He also accused the Red Bull driver of lacking respect and went on to suggest Verstappen’s inexperience was costing the former champions crucial points.
Editing by Alan Baldwin and Pritha Sarkar