Their rivalry may be heating up on track, but Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have opened up about their relationship off track, during a candid moment between the pair ahead of the French Grand Prix.
Verstappen and Hamilton have been fierce rivals this season, often going wheel-to-wheel in epic battles for the championship title, with the Dutchman currently leading the way by four points heading into round seven.
And their teams Mercedes and Red Bull have shared plenty of warring words off track too, with Christian Horner and Toto Wolff at one another’s throats over the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s car.
Wolff is not happy with Red Bull’s flexible rear wing with Mercedes having complained about it, forcing the FIA to introduce new tests which have ramped up tensions between the two teams.
But partnered alongside each other in the press conference, Verstappen and Hamilton, who both live in Monaco, shared a rare glimpse of their relationship off track, which is less strained.
“Me personally, I’m never out and about. We live on opposite sides of town, therefore not really seen each other,” laughed Hamilton.
JUST IN: George Russell sets Mercedes contract deadline
“Bit difficult to wave at each other, there’s like a rock [in the middle],” Verstappen interjected.
“But we’ve messaged, and DM’d before with messages after races, I guess we’ve not really had a lot of time to spend together.”
Hamilton is looking to become the most successful driver in F1 history, hoping to add an eighth world title to his collection alongside the Mercedes team.
In Monaco, tensions were high between the pair, with Hamilton declaring he had no time for a ‘war of words’ with Verstappen, after saying the Dutchman had a ‘lot to prove’ in Formula One.
Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff labelled Red Bull chief Christian Horner ‘as “a bit of windbag who wants to be on camera” as the war of words regarding flexi-wings escalated between the pair in Azerbaijan.
Max Verstappen tyre blowout questioned by Jenson Button
Valtteri Bottas shuts down George Russell talk as heat builds up
Lewis Hamilton launches Pirelli defence after Max Verstappen criticism
The comments came after Horner warned Wolff to ‘keep his mouth shut’ and “be careful what you wish for” after hinting Red Bull could decide to protest Mercedes’ flexible front wings.
Red Bull insist their car is fully in line with FIA regulations and accused rival teams of trying to ‘slow down’ the championship leaders with their complaints.
Yet Verstappen, who took control of the championship by four points after victory in Monte Carlo, explained that with 23 races on the F1 calendar, it’s not that he wouldn’t want to spend more time with Hamilton, it’s just that time at home is precious.
“We are away so much,” the Dutchman added, “You want to spend time with family and friends right?
“So with so many races, we’re doing, that is priority number one because they also would love to spend time with you.
“When the opportunity arises, I mean it’s very easy to meet up nowadays, with social media and stuff.”
Hamilton agreed with the Red Bull driver and suggested it was a healthy step forward for all the drivers to have some time together off-track to bond.
“I think at some stage, when things get back to normal, I’m sure there will be a moment where we meet somewhere,” replied Hamilton.
“I saw you jet-skiing,” Verstappen interrupted, with Hamilton adding: “Yeah? Well, I’m sure there’s something fun we’ll end up doing.
“I definitely think it’s good for all the drivers to be able to get together and put away the competition and just have a good night out together, so at some stage, we’ll probably all do that.”