Max Verstappen could not resist aiming a thinly-veiled dig at his Formula 1 2021 title rival Lewis Hamilton after enjoying an online sim racing session with his friends.
The Dutchman clashed with Hamilton on several occasions during their bitter but epic title battle three years ago, with their on-track skirmishes culminating in a memorable incident at the 2021 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Having got the better of polesitter Hamilton off the line, Verstappen led the Briton around the first sector of the iconic Silverstone circuit. But Hamilton, using his experience and patience behind the wheel, closed in on Verstappen as they headed into Copse corner.
The Mercedes star twitched his steering wheel to the right to get the inside line on Verstappen and refused to yield as the Red Bull driver took the racing line. As a consequence, Verstappen spun off at 160mph and hit the barrier with a peak impact of 51g.
Verstappen was shaken but walked away unhurt, while Hamilton received a 10-second penalty for the collision that left Red Bull boss Christian Horner seething. The veteran went on to win the race after passing Charles Leclerc, ironically at the same corner but with no collision, while Verstappen licked his wounds.
But the 26-year-old showed he was able to smile about it years down the line after sharing a joke with his sim racing friends. In a long streaming session on Twitch, Verstappen and his fellow RedLine racing colleagues lined up on the grid at the virtual Silverstone in Formula 3 cars.
Verstappen makes light of Copse clash
As they approached Copse, Verstappen managed to execute a clean overtake for the lead after going side by side with Chris Lulham. And with a cheeky grin on his face, he referenced his crash with Hamilton by saying: “So it does work, going side by side into that corner [Copse].”
As it turns out, Verstappen is just as handy on the virtual racetrack as he is in real life. The three-time world champion won the F3 race and finished third in the sprint in the F4 event.
He will be gunning to follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Vettel by aiming for his fourth world championship in a row when he returns to the cockpit for real in February for the Bahrain GP.
Verstappen won 19 out of 22 races last season in an utterly dominant year for Red Bull, while Hamilton is on a 45-race streak without a race win. After two disappointing seasons, Mercedes are expected to make improvements to their car this year to close the gap on Red Bull.
And it may not be long before Verstappen and Hamilton are side by side again at Copse if the 39-year-old can find pace in the car. Hopefully, this time, the pair can learn from the error of their ways.