Max Verstappen unhappy with Lewis Hamilton's attitude over safety

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton won the drivers' championship in 2008, 2014 and 2015

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has accused Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of being hypocritical over safety in Formula 1.

The 18-year-old accused Hamilton of "maybe wanting to be cool" by giving the impression he is not that interested in safety, but acting differently in private.

"We are looking for safety and we don't want to die on track," Verstappen said.

The Dutchman said he would have no problem standing up to the three-time world champion on the issue if needed.

"I prefer to do it on track than talk about it in the briefing room but I'm definitely not afraid," he said.

"It's not because he won world championships that you can't go against him. Everybody has his own opinion."

Verstappen was referring in particular to an incident at the Grand Prix of Europe in Baku two weeks ago.

He added: "In the media he's saying he doesn't care, but when he talks to his team it's different.

"I had an incident in the drivers' briefing in Baku saying the pit entry was quite tricky, and he's like: 'Oh, you shouldn't bother about it.'

"But then Nico jumped in and said: 'Wait, Lewis, you just said you were (scared) when you were entering the pit lane'. So what is this approach?'

"Maybe he wants to be cool."

Rosberg himself told the media about it in Azerbaijan when it was pointed out to him that Hamilton had said some of his rivals were "moaning" about safety issues.

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton finished second in the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix - one place behind team-mate Nico Rosberg

Hamilton "off the pace" in practice

Verstappen's remarks came after Hamilton admitted to struggling and being "way off the pace" in Friday practice at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton heads into Sunday's race 24 points behind team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg and in need of a good result to revive his title hopes.

But the world champion said: "I'm not that quick, to be honest, but tomorrow I hope I can pick up the pace.

"Nico is much, much quicker today. I have to try to find that."

Hamilton ended the second session on Friday just 0.019 seconds slower than Rosberg but the times were incomparable because the German set his at the beginning of the session and Hamilton at the end, after the track had dried following a torrential downpour.

When the two were out together at the beginning of the session before the rain, Rosberg was 1.2 seconds quicker than Hamilton, who was using a harder tyre which is in the region of 0.5-0.6secs slower.

Hamilton had been 0.357 seconds slower than the German in first practice, during which he had a spin.

Hamilton added that Saturday morning's final practice session ahead of qualifying would be "about trying to get into a rhythm as soon as possible and make the laps count".

But Rosberg said he still expected a tough challenge from Hamilton in qualifying, which starts at 1300 BST on Saturday.

"Lewis didn't really get his laps together so he didn't really show what he can do," he said.

Austrian Grand Prix practice results

Austrian Grand Prix coverage details

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