Lewis Hamilton responds to Max Verstappen pressure talk as rivalry continues at French GP

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Lewis Hamilton is looking to silence any critics this weekend as Mercedes look to bounce back from two tough weekends in Monaco and Baku, admitting he feels ‘no pressure’ from Max Verstappen heading to the French GP.

Last time out, Hamilton made a very rare mistake in the car after the race had been red-flagged due to a tyre blowout from his main title rival and championship leader Verstappen.

The seven-time world champion lined up second on the grid for the restart, but plummeted to 15th after challenging Sergio Perez for the lead, accidentally activating a button on the car’s steering wheel – which changes brake bias settings and is used to heat the front tyres.

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As a result, Hamilton locked up and went straight at turn one down the escape route, finishing P15 in Baku, and despite a DNF from Verstappen, due to Hamilton’s mistake, he walked away still leading the championship.

“Max wasn’t in the race at the time so I definitely wasn’t under pressure from him,” said Hamilton.

“I don’t even count it as a mistake and I don’t even know what the mistake before that was, but I don’t feel any pressure, I feel pretty relaxed. You can’t always be perfect.

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“A mistake is when you often drive off the track after missing your braking point or a hit the wall, but it as an unforced error.

“It was something we had that was sitting there that could’ve happened at any point, and it, unfortunately, bit us pretty hard.”

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Ahead of the French GP, Mercedes say they are to introduce a change to avoid a repeat of the switch mishap that sent Hamilton off the track amid the dramatic end to the Azerbaijan GP.

“We’ve not moved it, we’ve just put a shroud around it just to make sure that I can’t accidentally touch it in the future, but that’s for the short term, obviously the wheels not too easy to change or to move buttons as it’s all designed,” added Hamilton.

“So we’ll look for a longer-term solution in the future.”

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And Hamilton is confident he and Mercedes can turn things around this weekend.

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He said: “We continue to strive for perfection, we continue to unite and there is not really a lot we can’t do when we are together and united,” he said, “so I am looking forward to getting back onto a track where we probably won’t be as affected with tyre temps, for example.

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“The last two races have definitely been really difficult for us as a whole, as a team. Fortunately, with two terrible races for us, we ended up being very, very close in points so the race is still very much on.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen, who was alongside the Briton in the press conference ahead of the French Grand Prix, agreed that due to the nature of the track at Paul Ricard, Mercedes would be stronger.

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