Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Max Verstappen’s supporters by saying it is “mind-blowing” they cheered his crash at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton ended up in the tyre wall after he lost control of his Mercedes at 140mph in qualifying on Friday night.
The British driver, who started ninth and finished one place higher in Saturday’s sprint race, emerged unscathed from the accident. But not before Verstappen’s orange-clad army had celebrated his demise.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 8, 2022
“I don’t agree with any of that, no matter what,” said Hamilton. “A driver could have been in hospital, and you are going to cheer that?
“It is mind-blowing that people would do that, knowing how dangerous our sport is. I was grateful I didn’t end up in hospital and I wasn’t heavily injured.”
Verstappen, who won Saturday’s 23-lap dash at the Red Bull Ring to extend his championship lead and ensure he starts from the front for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, was booed by Hamilton’s fans after he put his Red Bull on pole at Silverstone last weekend.
Hamilton continued: “You should never cheer someone’s downfall or someone’s injury.
“It shouldn’t have happened at Silverstone – even though it wasn’t a crash – and it shouldn’t have happened here.”
Hamilton has endured a trying weekend in the Styrian mountains. The seven-time world champion is competing in the spare car following the extensive damage he sustained in his high-speed qualifying smash.
He was then involved in an accident after the opening metres of Saturday’s race when he became the meat in an Alex Albon-Pierre Gasly sandwich.
Hamilton’s front-right tyre made contact with Gasly’s left-rear wheel, sending the French driver briefly up in the air and into a spin.
Drama from the start in Spielberg 😮
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Hamilton was able to continue but dropped two places. He fought his way past Albon on the fourth lap and then overtook Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas on lap eight before eventually getting his way round Mick Schumacher with two laps remaining.
“I got a bit of wheelspin and I was under attack from the cars around me,” said Hamilton. “Pierre moved over on me so I had nowhere to go.
“It wasn’t particularly the most fun of races. I was so lucky [to get round the first lap] and I am grateful to have finished and get one point.”
Sixty thousand spectators have travelled from Holland to Austria to turn this weekend’s event into a home race for Verstappen and he did not disappoint with a composed performance from pole.
"I'm grateful I managed to survive out there today. The team did such a great job to get the car back together last night and this morning. A big thankyou to them and I'm glad I brought it back mostly in one piece." pic.twitter.com/ZzvnlRy3rO
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 9, 2022
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc kept team-mate Carlos Sainz at bay to take the chequered flag in second, while George Russell, who also crashed out of qualifying, started fourth and finished in the same position.
Sergio Perez, thrown down the grid for exceeding track limits, drove back from 13th to fifth.
However, Russell and Perez were among six drivers summoned to the stewards for an alleged breach of communicating with their teams during the second formation lap.
All drivers were later cleared after the stewards “determined that the (radio) messages under investigation were permitted”.
Verstappen’s championship lead over Perez stands at 38 points ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix, with Leclerc 44 points back.