Lewis Hamilton promised to get his elbows out in a first lap fight with Max Verstappen — who blasted the “f***ing d***heads” who denied him pole position.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was livid after seeing his pole position lap deleted by the stewards for exceeding track limits during qualifying for the Portugal Grand Prix. He was then caught up in traffic as he tried in vain to beat Valtteri Bottas’ lap time for pole.
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Verstappen waved away the TV cameras after qualifying in third place but could not hide his frustration at being held up.
Controversially, Lando Norris was told to “do him no favours” by McLaren during qualifying while Verstappen also blasted the slow Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel.
Over the team’s radio, he said: “F*** sake, why do these guys not move? I am on a fast lap. They are f***ing d***heads!”
He later added: “I did not enjoy one single lap.
“It was not enjoyable to drive. If you look at the lap time (that was deleted) of course we could have had pole, but I don’t like to talk like that …should, would, could.
“I thought I could do the lap again but then lost all my time with an Aston Martin in front of me.
“I remember coming here to Portimao before the GP and it was in the top three of my favourite tracks and then they changed the tarmac. I don’t enjoy it anymore.”
McLaren denied any wrongdoing in telling Norris not to gift wrap a qualifying time to Verstappen, insisting it just didn’t want the Dutchman to benefit from being in Norris’ slipstream.
“First of all, we have to make it clear, we drive for ourselves and not for anyone else. Our aim is to finish as high up as possible with our two cars,” team principal Andreas Seidl said.
“I guess it’s normal that, like everyone is doing, and Max was no different, you don’t want to give anyone a tow, because it’s a benefit for the other car.
“Qualifying is about doing the lap time yourself without the help of anyone else.
“You just tried to get out of the way, out of the slipstream, to make sure that everyone can do his lap himself, and without additional help.”
Hamilton bracing for fiery start
Meanwhile, Hamilton, who starts in P2, is bracing himself for an all-out attack from Verstappen, who was quickest out of the blocks during the last race in Italy.
The Red Bull driver was bullish as he rammed his way past Hamilton and Bottas at the start of that race and went on to take the victory.
But Hamilton says he will not be rolling over as he looks to increase his slender one-point advantage in the championship over Verstappen.
Hamilton, who was just 0.007 seconds off Bottas’s time, said: “There was so much lost time out there and I was not able to put it together.
“It was very tricky and this qualifying session has to be at the bottom of the list of all my qualifying sessions.
“But I will go all in at the start of the race. It will be a close battle between the three of us.”
Bottas took the 17th pole of his career after a difficult start to the season where he has been upstaged by his Mercedes teammate.
The Finn has seen his future at the team called into question and was also crashed into by George Russell, who has been mooted as his replacement.
He added: “It is a good feeling to be on pole. It feels like it has been a while and qualifying has been a weak point for me in the first two races.
“But this has put a smile on my face. I feel like we are going in the right direction. The only way I know is that hard work always pays off.”
This story first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission