Lewis Hamilton has laid the blame for his crash with Max Verstappen on Lap 1 of the British Grand Prix squarely on the Dutchman and his aggressive driving style.
Verstappen started the British GP on pole position and went into Turn 1 in first place. But Hamilton was close behind and did not let the Red Bull Racing driver get away in the opening corners. The Mercedes driver got a good exit out of turn 7 and lined up Verstappen for a move going into Corpse corner.
The seven-time world champion dummied Verstappen and took the inside line going into the corner, but the title challenger was not willing to give it up without a fight. Verstappen took the outside line while leaving enough room for Hamilton to make a move. But with both refusing to back out in what is the fastest corner on the track, Hamilton hit Verstappen's rear tyre, sending him into the barriers.
"I think it's a normal battle," Hamilton said after the race, as quoted on Planet F1. "But we're in a battle and I think this year he has been very aggressive and most of the times I've had to concede and just avoid incident with him and live to fight later on in the race."
"As you saw on Saturday, once he's out in the clear they're too fast, so when an opportunity comes I've got to try and take it. I got a great exit out of Turn 7 and I was really happy with the dummy that I was able to go to the left and then go to the inside and get up that gap. Fortunately he wasn't able to close it.
"But unfortunately, the aggression stayed from his side and we collided. It's unfortunate," the Briton added.
The gloves coming off in the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen is great for Formula 1 and the neutral fans, but on the day it was Red Bull that came away the losers after failing to score a single point. The Austrian team have dominated the last five races but now see Mercedes close the gap to just within few points in both championships.
Verstappen labelled Hamilton's celebrations after the race "disrespectful and unsportsmanlike" while he was still in hospital. But the Mercedes driver is hoping they can move forward and give each other "respect and space" when their on-track battle resumes in the remaining races.
"I would say Max is probably one of the most aggressive drivers here, just from my personal opinion. He does a great job, of course, but I think we have to really try to find the best balance we can on track with space and respect between one another so we can continue racing and have good races without colliding," Hamilton said.