Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says he has no interest in thinking about historic Formula One fights, after Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggested there could be a Senna-Prost repeat in a bid for one of the drivers to seal the title this season. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had one of the most famous rivalries in the history of F1, specifically in 1988 and 1989 as team-mates at McLaren-Honda, when on two occasions the pair crashed, sealing the fate of the championship.
In a recent interview, Wolff suggested history could repeat itself, with just five races remaining this season and Verstappen leading Lewis Hamilton by 12 points heading to Mexico City.
“I don’t really think about previous historic fights between two drivers what they’ve done, it’s the past,” said Verstappen, speaking during Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.
“I just focus on what I have to do on track of course, and that’s to try and do the best I can.
“And that’s how at the end of the day you’re gonna win the championship to try and get the most available points out there. And of course, try to beat your rival.”
The comments came as Wolff discussed how he thought the end of the season would pan out.
Despite insisting he would never instruct Hamilton to crash, Wolff told the Daily Mail it couldn’t be ruled out due to the nature of the battle.
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“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi, and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” said Wolff.
“What happened in Monza? Verstappen took Lewis out because he was about to overtake and he was quicker. And that is totally understandable.
“If you are racing for the championship and you see it fading away because the other guy is overtaking you, what other tool have you got other than the one that makes sure he can’t overtake? We’ve seen it with Schumacher and Villeneuve, we saw it with Senna and Prost twice.
“I don’t think you can control it, I don’t think you want to control it because they are the gladiators in their machines. You wouldn’t want to have calmed the gladiators in the arena 2,000 years ago. We will not interfere.
“I would never give the instruction to crash into anyone else but if they go to that last race and whoever is in front wins the championship, they will be racing each other, hard.
“And I don’t think you can control it, Hamilton and Verstappen, I don’t think you want to control it because they are the gladiators in their machines. That is what makes this sport so interesting because it is ingrained in our nature that we don’t like confrontation and then one is intrigued to see how that relationship unfolds.
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“If they crash are they going to confront each other? What are they going to say? Will they look in each others’ eyes? We would not interfere. The relationship is sorted out between the individuals.”
Despite Verstappen’s lead, there are still 133 points up for grabs over the remainder of the season, the championship is poised to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
During the final run-in Hamilton and Verstappen will both know the risks, mechanically and on track.
And with two unknown tracks added to the calendar in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Verstappen claimed its business as usual in the countdown to the final race.
“Well, I like what I’m doing, you know, so that takes the pressure off,” said Verstappen.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been in a championship fight. Yes, first in Formula One, but not in my life.
“So at the end of the day that doesn’t really change because you need to win and that’s what I’ve been doing in the past as well.
“So I need to just try and to do the same here.
“And like I’ve said already previous races, you know, when the car is capable to win or win if the car is not capable of winning, I won’t win.”
Formula One heads to Mexico City this weekend and qualifying gets underway at 8pm BST on Saturday evening with the race at 7pm on Sunday.