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Lewis Hamilton’s former engineer has defended the seven-time champion and fired subtle shots at Max Verstappen. Sam Michael, the former McLaren sporting director, stressed Hamilton is not a dirty driver despite recent clashes with Verstappen.
The former title rivals came together on several occasions in 2021 as they battled for the crown. However, Michael feels Verstappen was always more to blame as he refused to yield.
He told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do something that you think ‘that was dirty’. Even looking at the recent stuff with him and Max, he goes out of his way to not do stuff.
“So he [Verstappen] might do things where [he’s] putting the car into a position where it’s like ‘you do this and we crash.’ You don’t see Lewis do that to you.”
The duo came together after battles at the Italian and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix. They also battled in Brazil and made contact again a year later at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
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However, the pair’s most iconic collision came to Silverstone on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen was thrown into the wall in a massive 51G shunt as Hamilton went on to win the race despite being penalised.
Afterwards, Hamilton felt he didn’t owe Verstappen an apology and even hinted he knew a collision was likely. The Mercedes star said: “I was pretty far up alongside him but I then could see he wasn’t going to back out and we went into the corner and then we collided.
“Of course, that’s never the way I ever want to win a race or just in general to race but these things do happen.”
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Michael addressed the collision, suggesting it showed a different side to the seven-time champion. He added: “That’s an interesting one, maybe that was an example. Obviously, Red Bull felt that didn’t they?
“That’s an interesting one for you to ask Lewis because it’s very hard to explain that one away, isn’t it? Lewis is too honest when I say that, there’s no such thing as being too honest but he’s an honest person. There’s probably a part of his legacy that he wants to make sure that’s important to him.”
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