The gloves seem to coming off in the battle for the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship title between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as the latter took victory on Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.
It all started ahead of the Monaco race when Hamilton made a comment about Verstappen being more aggressive during their on-track battles because he had something to prove. But the Dutchman hit back immediately by stating that he had nothing to prove, and that it takes two drivers in order to avoid contact while racing.
Christian Horner, the Red Bull Racing team principal, then weighed in on Hamilton's accusations towards Verstappen. He labelled the Mercedes driver's comments as "nonsense" and believes the Briton made those comments because Verstappen now has an upper hand.
"Lewis loves that nonsense, just let him do his thing. Max is doing his own thing. And the fact that Lewis has to do that probably shows that Max has him under his thumb," Horner said during the his press conference.
Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix in convincing fashion after Valtteri Bottas' pit stop woes. He also took the lead in the Drivers' Championship for the first time in his career. Despite that, the Dutch driver seems to still hold Hamilton's comments in his head – which led him to take a jab at the Mercedes driver after the race.
"Well, first of all, actions always speak louder than words," Verstappen said when asked about Red Bull overtaking Mercedes in both championships, as quoted on Planet F1. "That's a good lesson after this weekend. You only have to talk on the track. That's what I like."
"We as a team so far made the smallest mistakes. That's why we are ahead. So I hope we can keep that going for the rest of the season," he added.
Hamilton was informed about Horner and Verstappen's comments but the seven-time world champion refused to get into a war of words with his title rivals. The Mercedes driver did not want to get into a "childish" verbal confrontation, but instead chose to focus on the 17 remaining races.
"I am not playing mind games. It is interesting what Christian comes out with but I couldn't care less. They did a great job this weekend and that's that," Hamilton said, as quoted on Fox Sports. "There are 17 races to go. I'm not going to say more. It's childish when you start getting into a war of words."