LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen’s inexperience has cost Red Bull precious points this season.
The Mercedes driver clashed with the 20-year-old on the second lap in Bahrain last weekend, each blaming the other for an incident that led to the Red Bull driver’s race retirement.
Verstappen is the rising star of Formula One, already the winner of three races and a driver Hamilton rates as a future champion, but the Briton was critical of how the Dutchman drove at Sakhir on Sunday.
“They (Red Bull) have a car which should be getting good results, but through inexperience, or not mature decisions, they are not,” Hamilton told reporters.
“Max should have had a decent race. If (McLaren’s) Fernando (Alonso) was in their car, he would have got points for Red Bull. If I was in their car, I would have got points for Red Bull.
“I hope he (Verstappen) is learning through these situations. I went through that when I was younger so I know how it is. It is easy to get ahead of yourself and forget to respect the other guys that you are racing against.”
Hamilton, 33, said Verstappen, who crashed in the first phase of qualifying in Bahrain and started 15th, had “fantastic pace” but young drivers did not always make the right decisions.
Red Bull are fourth in the championship after two races, behind Renault-powered rivals McLaren, despite having a car that looked in testing to be on a par with Ferrari — winners in Australia and Bahrain.
The team’s other driver, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, retired early on in Bahrain with an electrical failure.
Vertappen won two races last season, ending the season strongly.
Hamilton finished third in Bahrain, after starting ninth due to a grid penalty for a gearbox change, and he suffered communications problems during the race.
The Briton said that was something the team needed to address and would discuss ahead of this weekend’s race in Shanghai.
“I was driving around in kind of no-man’s land for a while, but that’s just something we need to work on. The radio wasn’t working properly. And in the heat of the moment, it’s very difficult to know what information you need to give,” he said.
“They couldn’t hear me, I could hear them. But they would always come back saying ‘I can’t hear you’.
“And obviously then when you do try to give feedback on a corner, you’re taking your mind off driving a perfect line.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O’Brien)