Lewis Hamilton has stoked the fires again in his ongoing feud with Max Verstappen by slamming his performance in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
Reigning champion Hamilton had a weekend to forget himself, failing to cope with Ferrari's pace over Friday and Saturday, before only finishing a distant fourth behind race winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton, 33, who labelled his own race as a 'disaster', had the small comfort of at least out-scoring title leader Sebastian Vettel and went relatively under the radar due to the stark contrast in performances between the Red Bull drivers.
Whilst Australian Ricciardo brilliantly capitalised on the issues that Vettel and Hamilton endured, his teammate Verstappen didn't have quite the same success, managing to yet again ruffle the feathers of the drivers around him as he finished fifth.
His race was marred mainly by his collision with Vettel, for which he later admitted was his mistake, but also for succeeding to baffle Hamilton with his overtaking tactics, particularly on Turn 8.
Whilst Red Bull took full advantage of the safety car to pit both of their drivers, their rivals didn't, meaning that Ricciardo and Verstappen were ready to attack the field on fresher tyres.
And, with Ricciardo putting on an overtaking masterclass in Shanghai, his less-experienced teammate was criticised for looking to overtake in the wrong places on the track.
Hamilton, who called the 20-year-old a “d***head” just a week earlier, had another pop at the Dutchman, saying his Turn 7 move would never stick against a “top driver.”
Verstappen initially tried to pass Hamilton around the outside of Turn 7, a clumsy move that he couldn't see through and which took him off the track.
“Turn 8’s a little bit more possible [to overtake at], but there’s actually a dirty line on the outside of Turn 7,” said the Mercedes driver.
“It’s a very fast, long corner.
“I don’t think any top driver has ever been taken on the outside there before.
“I didn’t even see him there, I was doing the corner normally.
“When I watch the replay, I don’t really understand what he was up to there, but it wasn’t a problem for me.
“And yeah, naturally [I’m] thankful for the way he drives, because that meant we didn’t lose too many points today.”
Though Verstappen avoided contact with Hamilton, he was given a 10-second time penalty for hitting Vettel when grappling with the German.
And that coming together was an issue for Hamilton as he was forced to weave his way past the spinning cars.
Though the race was a stressful one for Hamilton, he has cut Vettel's championship lead to nine points as F1 heads to Azerbaijan in two weeks' time.
And with the Chinese Grand Prix shuffling the leading pack and throwing up a refreshing result, many eyes will now be on Verstappen to see if he can start to turn his enthusiastic racing into podiums and victories.
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