'We are better than that' – Hamilton condemns Silverstone's Verstappen jeers

By Sports Desk July 02, 2022

Lewis Hamilton was angered to see sections of the Silverstone crowd booing Max Verstappen during qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

Reigning Formula One world champion Verstappen was greeted by a chorus of jeers before conducting a post-qualifying interview on Saturday, having had to settle for second on the grid after being pipped by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who claimed the first pole position of his career.

Verstappen, who recorded a time less than a hundredth of a second slower than Sainz in treacherous conditions, spent the 2021 season locked in a dramatic and at times ill-tempted title tussle with Hamilton.

The duo were involved in a collision on the same course last year, before Verstappen clinched his first title at Hamilton's expense in contentious circumstances in December.

Verstappen also courted controversy earlier this week when he suggested Nelson Piquet's alleged use of a racist slur to describe Hamilton had been "blown out of proportion."  

Speaking after qualifying in fifth, Hamilton suggested last year's battle with Verstappen may have antagonised the Silverstone crowd as he refused to condone the reception afforded to the Red Bull driver.

"I think we are better than that and I definitely don't agree with the booing," Hamilton said.

"We should be here pushing everybody and it doesn't make any difference.

"But I do really appreciate the support I have. Maybe some of them are feeling the pain from last year. Either way, I appreciate it."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton's sentiments, asserting: "That is unsportsmanlike. If you’re not into the other guy, just remain silent. 

"I don't think any of the drivers deserves booing, whatever happened last year. Being booed is abusive and there is a certain limit which we shouldn’t overstep."

Meanwhile, Verstappen, who is targeting a third successive race victory on Sunday, insisted the hostile atmosphere did not faze him.

"It was a bit disappointing because I couldn't really understand [interviewer] Billy [Monger]," he joked.

"If they want to boo, they [can] do it. I'm always happy to be here, it's a great track and a great atmosphere in general.

"Maybe some of them don't like me, they're all entitled to their own opinions. I don't care."

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    The Pramac Racing driver started the British Grand Prix on pole as the season resumed following a five-week break and was able to maintain his lead in the early laps of the race.

    A crash at turn eight on lap five ended that charge, however, with Zarco initially continuing but later returning to the pits and retiring from the race.

    It was the eighth time in the premier class that Zarco has failed to turn pole position into a victory, and he felt his tyres were the reason why he missed out again.

    "The warm temperature pushed me to take this medium front – that was a good tyre anyway because Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] won on it, but it seemed for me, it was the reason of the crash, because there’s always a bit less grip with this tyre," he said.

    "But I was too worried to go with the soft one and not finish the race on a good pace, overall. The medium one, I knew it pretty well, so that's why I was quite confident, and the first laps were pretty good.

    "But I was surprised in that Turn 8. And clearly I'm disappointed, and it's pretty hard to put all the things together to put the victory."

    Zarco's failure to finish saw him drop to fifth in the championship standings, now sitting 66 points behind leader Fabio Quartararo - with Sunday's race at Silverstone being a missed opportunity to close the gap, as the Monster Energy Yamaha rider only finished eighth after having to serve an early long-lap penalty.

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    "I hope I will be in good form again in Austria, because what I could feel during this weekend and even during the race helped me to grow on the Ducati and get even more feeling as I want," he added.

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    The Ducati rider came off the five-week break 66 points behind the championship leader but capitalised on Fabio Quartararo's struggles, closing the gap to 49.

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    Quartararo finished eighth, narrowly ahead of championship rival Espargaro but both will now be worried about the title charge of Bagnaia.

    TOP 10

    1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati)
    2. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +0.426
    3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.614
    4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) +1.651
    5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +1.750
    6. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +2.727
    7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.021
    8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +3.819
    9. Alex Espargaro (Aprilia) +3.958
    10. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46) +6.646

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Riders

    1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) - 180
    2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) - 158
    3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) - 131
    4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) - 118
    5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) - 114

    Teams

    1. Aprilia Racing - 240
    2. Ducati - 238
    3. Monster Energy Yamaha - 206
    4. Pramac Racing - 195
    5. Red Bull KTM - 179

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    "Aleix's condition will be assessed in the coming hours because if the pain increases, he may not be able to participate in the race tomorrow," the team admitted.

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