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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has hit back at critics who suggested he may have been exaggerating after complaining of pain in Monza when the right rear tyre of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull hit his head during an accident.
Verstappen and Hamilton met unexpectedly on lap 26 of the race after a slow pit-stop from Red Bull, which thrust the Dutchman alongside the Briton, who was rejoining the track, ultimately leading to the incident at the Rettifilo chicane.
In the aftermath, Hamilton told the media he had felt ”a little bit of pain” whilst still in the car, adding that he was suffering from a huge headache after the crash and praised the Halo for saving his life.
It was met with some criticism, with Red Bull advisor Helmet Marko questioning how hurt the Mercedes driver really was.
“I was most annoyed by our messed-up pit stop,” Marko told Sport24 Auto.”This is the only reason why Hamilton came to the regions of Verstappen.
“It was a normal racing accident, all the stories around it were pulled by Mercedes.
“Verstappen had already got off when Hamilton tried to get out of the gravel trap with the return. The medical car saw this and drove on.
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“And then a show is pulled off that poor Hamilton is suddenly injured, etc.”
Immediately after the race, Hamilton flew to New York for the Met Gala, where he showcased new and upcoming young black designers, prompting Marko to add to RTL: “The whole incident was certainly not life-threatening. If he had really serious neck pain or problems, then he would not have been in New York – incidentally, in the very funny outfit he appeared in.
“If you go on a seven-hour flight with a stiff neck after an incident like this, it couldn’t have been all that serious.”
Speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix however, the Briton dismissed the suggestion he exaggerated his discomfort.
“I mean I don’t really listen to what these individuals talk about,” Hamilton said in the press conference on Thursday.
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“It’s inevitable that when a car lands on your head, you’re going to have some sort of discomfort.
“I definitely felt a bit of pain I think after the race and then I said I was going to get it checked out and I worked with Angela [Cullen, Hamilton’s physiotherapist and assistant] straight after the race and during the flight had checkups the next day and then we just worked on it through the week with acupuncture and everything.
“I didn’t say I was dying. Of course, aware of the fact that in just a millisecond, anything can happen.
“And so I did feel grateful. It was difficult. It was intense.
“I was going through a lot of different emotions, didn’t always handle it the best.
“And that’s to be expected, there’s a lot of pressure from you working in a big team, there’s a lot of self-expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge.
“I was just saying that I empathise and understand that but I know that we will continue to grow from this.”
Ahead of the race in Sochi however, Hamilton did add he was feeling much better and was ready to take the fight to Verstappen.
“No [linger effects from Monza] fortunately not, I was really lucky I had Angela with me all week, she was meant to go home but she stayed with me all week.
“Lots of good positive treatments, lot of yoga and managed to get back in the gym and feeling good, so very fortunate.”
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