Lewis Hamilton hits back at critics with Valtteri Bottas message after Max Verstappen blow


Lewis Hamilton has issued a rallying call to Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes team insisting they must “keep pushing” after Max Verstappen opened up a 19-gap in the Formula One Drivers’ Championship with victory at the Mexican Grand Prix. Hamilton insists he was not taking shots at his team-mate after claiming Bottas “left the door open” for Verstappen at the start of the race.

Red Bull’s victory saw them cut Mercedes’ lead atop the Constructors’ Championship to a single point with the Milton Keynes-based team having won 10 races between Verstappen and Sergio Perez this season.

Hamilton and Bottas had locked out the front row in Mexico City but ended 2nd and 15th with the Finn spinning on the opening lap after Verstappen took the race lead.

Verstappen is seeking his first ever F1 title with Hamilton by contrast looking to overtake Michael Schumacher and become the sport’s only ever driver on eight titles.

But with just four races remaining of the season – in Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi – Hamilton needs a sizeable points swing in order to come out triumphant once again.

The Briton has only won back-to-back races once in 2021, in Portugal and Spain in the third and fourth rounds of the season, but now needs a consistent run of success or some major misfortune for his title rival. A win for Verstappen in Sao Paolo would surely see him put one hand on the trophy.

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And ahead of Interlagos, Hamilton has taken to social media to urge the Silver Arrows and team-mate Bottas, who will leave to join Alfa Romeo in the offseason, to give it all they’ve got between now and the end of the year.

The seven-time world champion rejected suggestions he took shots at Bottas, after he said: “I was trying to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind, and I thought Valtteri would be doing the same.

“But obviously, he left the door open for Max, and Max was on the racing line so did a mega job braking into Turn 1.”

Hamilton said on his Instagram story on Monday night: “We all have bad days. We live and we learn. Yesterday I said VB [Bottas] left the door open and naturally people will jump to criticise.

“We are a team and we win and lose as a team. There is not one single person responsible for winning or losing, we do it together good or bad.

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“You may be able to beat us, but you won’t be able to break us. Onto the next one Valtteri, let’s keep pushing bro!”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists there is no chance of Hamilton giving up in his pursuit of a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I’m a pretty realistic person, but I love motor racing, because anything can happen,” the team principal said.

“None of us are ever going to leave this circuit with the mentality of this is going away from us. There’s four races to go, four wins to take, four DNFs to suffer. And we will just continue fighting.

“We know we have a great team. Our car was exceptionally good in Turkey. And I think we have all to win. But when you look at the mathematical probability, obviously I’d rather be 19 points ahead than behind.

“There are still 107 points available. So there’s a long way to go. Reliability is going to play a crucial role, maximising every weekend, strategy and pitstops.”



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