Lewis Hamilton reacted with an awkward smile after a fan quipped that the Mercedes star has won eight world titles, as opposed to seven. The individual was making a reference to the fact that the Briton was controversially beaten to the 2021 championship by Max Verstappen.
Hamilton, team-mate George Russell and Red Bull driver Sergio Perez were on stage at a launch party for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Sky Sports presenter David Croft asked the trio on which track would they most like to clinch a world championship.
Russell turned to his Silver Arrows colleague and said: “Well this guy has got seven of them so he can probably tell you more.” Croft then picked up on a fan shouting from the crowd, pointed at the individual and added: “Someone’s saying he’s got eight!”
Hamilton remained silent but offered an awkward smile after the comment. It comes after Red Bull were left furious with Croft’s Sky colleague Ted Kravitz for suggesting Hamilton had been “robbed” of the 2021 championship.
Verstappen and his Red Bull colleagues boycotted Sky at the Mexican Grand Prix last week following comments made by Kravitz the week prior. Kravitz had fantasised about an alternative ending to the United States Grand Prix, which had been a key race in the 2021 battle.
He said: “[Hamilton] doesn’t win a race all year, and then finally comes back at a track where he could win the first race all year, battling the same guy who won the race he was robbed in the previous year, and manages to finish ahead of him. What a script and a story that would have been. But that’s not the way the script turned out today, was it?
“Because the guy that beat him after being robbed actually overtook him, because he’s got a quicker car, because of engineering and Formula One and design, and pretty much because of [Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s chief technical officer] over there.”
That prompted Verstappen to boycott Sky for a week, although the Dutchman insisted that it was just one of several negative comments made by the broadcaster about his maiden championship. “It had nothing to do with this weekend, but this year has been a constant, kind of like digging and being disrespectful, especially from one particular person,” the 25-year-old said, in a clear dig at Kravitz.
“At some point, it’s enough, I don’t accept it. You can’t live in the past, you just have to move on. Social media is a very toxic place, and if you are constantly being like that on live TV, you make it only worse instead of trying to make it better in the world.”
Red Bull chief Christian Horner confirmed that the team would drop their boycott for the Brazilian Grand Prix, but added: “There were some derogatory comments made so we took a break from Sky for this race. Max was upset. We were upset and we made the decision to stand together as a team.
“It won’t have done Sky any harm for us to lay down a marker. Some of the commentary is fair but some pieces are sensationalist, and saying we robbed anyone of the championship, as was said in Austin, is going too far. It is not impartial or fair or balanced. We have said our piece and will go back to normal next race.”