Max Verstappen has laughed off claims from seven-time world champion rival Lewis Hamilton that he is feeling the pressure of his first F1 title fight this season.
Verstappen leads Hamilton by five points with eight races remaining and so far the battle has been uncompromising on track as well as off it, with the pair often taking jibes at each other during the events.
When asked about Hamilton's comments, Verstappen initially joked: “Yeah, I am so nervous, I can barely sleep. I mean, it is so horrible to fight for a title! I really hate it!”
Taking on a more serious tone, he added: “If someone knows me, I think I am very relaxed about all those things and I really can’t be bothered, I am really chilled.
“It is the best feeling ever to have a great car where you go into every weekend and you can fight for a win. It doesn’t matter if you are just leading a championship or not.
“Lewis’ comments just show you he really doesn’t know me, which is fine. I also don’t need to know him, how he is fully.
"I just focus on myself and I really enjoy it out there at the front and hopefully we can do it for a very long time.”
Verstappen ready to break Mercedes' dominance in Sochi
Verstappen faces one of the biggest challenges of his season this weekend at a track where Mercedes is unbeaten after winning every race at Sochi since its debut in 2014.
The Red Bull driver believes this could be the year to end that reign after finishing second at the track last year - albeit thanks to a double penalty for Hamilton - and with his car is in a far better position on this occasion.
“It’s always difficult to tell but I think last year actually wasn’t too bad for us," assessed Verstappen.
"Of course, this hasn’t been an amazing track for us but I think also this year everything is a bit different
“It doesn’t matter where we go I think generally we are a bit more competitive. We will have to wait and see but I am still very confident we can have a good weekend.”
What do you think?
He only panics when it looks that someone else is going to beat him. Then he runs them off the track.
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