By Joe Harker
As far as insults go 'dickhead' is relatively mild when you consider the vile depths that the English language offers. But it was what Lewis Hamilton said about Max Verstappen after the Bahrain Grand Prix.
For context, Hamilton and Verstappen's cars collided on the second lap of the race and the former made the comment when watching the footage after the race in the cool down room. Both drivers blamed each other for the collision that damaged Verstappen's car and forced him to drop out of the race, but it was Hamilton's choice of words for his rival that became the focus of the resulting press conference.
The first question asked after the race was not about the Grand Prix itself, but about Hamilton insulting Verstappen. F1 Championship rival Sebastian Vettel stepped in to take the question, defending Hamilton and asserting that the drivers are not always going to say nice things. He said: "I think it's not fair. I mean, I don't know what Lewis did. We've all been in that situation, we fight someone, we go sometimes wheel-to-wheel, it's close and you have a lot of adrenaline going.
"Do you think comparing to football, if you have a microphone on a football player's mouth, that everything he says is something nice and is a nice message when the guy tackles him and maybe sometimes he fouls him or not?"
Verstappen himself wasn't very concerned about Hamilton's insult, agreeing with Vettel that certain things are said with the rush of adrenaline and shouldn't be given too much weight. He said: "He is just out of the car there. Then those things can happen. If you are just out of the car, you are still full of adrenaline, so yeah."
Neither driver will be punished for the collision, with it being dismissed as a "racing incident" where neither driver acted with malicious intent. Hamilton's first comment would appear to be made in the heat of the moment as his later reflections on the incident were far more calm and constructive. He believes Verstappen's inexperience is causing him to make mistakes and lose points. He said: "I just think for him, he's a young driver and is going to be learning all the time, he's got fantastic pace but, as youngsters, we do not always make the right decisions.
"I don't know if they are inexperienced, or not potentially mature, decisions, they're not getting the results they would have. He should have finished a decent race really because he's good enough to do that."
It would seem that all is forgiven between Hamilton and Verstappen. Though both regard the collision as the other's fault all parties seem to agree that Hamilton spoke in the heat of the moment and every driver understands what that feels like.