Max Verstappen insists he has no ill feeling towards Lewis Hamilton after the Brit's suggestion that the Red Bull star "maybe has a problem with me".
They are the two biggest names on the Formula 1 grid and contested one of the best title battles the sport has ever seen in 2021. Verstappen came out on top, but in highly controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Even before that infamous finale, there were plenty of flashpoints between them. Some of the most notable included Verstappen's huge Silverstone crash after contact with Hamilton, a collision at Monza which took them both out of the Italian Grand Prix and contact in Saudi Arabia when the Red Bull racer was accused of brake-testing his rival.
Hamilton publicly called out the Dutchman after that moment, and said: "I've come across a lot of different characters and there are a few at the top which are kind of over the limit. [Verstappen is] over the limit, for sure. I've avoided collisions on so many occasions with the guy."
With Verstappen romping to the title last year and Hamilton unable to compete in his poor W13 car, there were fewer flashpoints between them. A moment of contact in Brazil, from which both emerged unscathed, was the only real on-track incident of note in 2022.
But still, it is the main rivalry in the sport. Despite their penchant of taking pops at each other when speaking to the media and in press conferences, Hamilton recently said that he holds no grudge or dislike of Verstappen.
"People like to talk about there being problems between Max and me," he told Formu1e.nl. "I respect him. He is a lot younger, so maybe he has a problem with me. But I am not sure about that and I actually assume not. Although I can't speak for him."
Asked for his response to that statement by Mirror Sport at Red Bull's 2023 season launch event on Friday, Verstappen said: "I don’t have an issue with anyone. We all sat at that dinner in Abu Dhabi and we all had a laugh with everyone, we all had a good time. So that's okay."
He also said it would be "in the interests of the sport" if Hamilton and other drivers were back in the title hunt this season, adding: "From our side we can do better because in qualifying, most of the time [last year] we were not the quickest car. For the sport, everyone wants a title battle with multiple teams involved."
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