I'm so nervous I can barely sleep! – Verstappen's sarcastic response to Hamilton's 'pressure' claim

By Sports Desk September 23, 2021

Max Verstappen joked he "can barely sleep" after Lewis Hamilton suggested his title rival might be feeling the pressure as he fights for a maiden world championship crown.

Red Bull driver Verstappen leads Hamilton by five points ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, where he will serve a three-place grid penalty after colliding with the Mercedes man at Monza two weeks ago.

This is the closest the top two have been after 14 races since the 2016 battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (two points).

While Verstappen is seeking his first title in what is his seventh season in Formula One, Hamilton has finished top on seven occasions, the first of those triumphs coming in 2008.

The Briton was involved in a tense battle while with McLaren the previous year and, reflecting on that experience, believes he knows exactly what Verstappen is feeling right now.

"Obviously he won't admit to it, and I'm not going to make an assumption, but I'm just saying I remember what it was like battling for my first championship," he said on Thursday.

"The pressure definitely mounted up. It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions and I didn't always handle it the best and that's to be expected.

"I know the pressure that comes with it and the experiences, so I can empathise with that.

"I do believe that he will continue to get stronger, and I'm hopeful we won't have any more incidences like last time through the rest of the year.

"I never expect a driver to back down. What's important is that we just continue to race hard and fair, and I have no doubts that we will both be professional and learn from the past."

 

However, when those comments were relayed back to championship leader Verstappen, the Dutchman offered a sarcastic response.

"I'm so nervous I can barely sleep. It's so horrible to fight for a title. I really hate it," he said.

"Those comments just show that he really doesn't know me. Which is fine. I also don't need to know him.

"I just focus on myself and I really enjoy it out there at the front, and hopefully we can do that for a very long time.

"I am very chilled. It is the best feeling ever to have a car, a great car, where you can go into every weekend and you can fight for a win."

Mercedes have triumphed at Monza every year since 2014 – no team has won more races at a single grand prix without failing – and Hamilton has the chance to reclaim the title lead should that be the case again this weekend.

"It's very, very important, as important as it can be," Hamilton said. 

Related items

  • El Clasico: Alaba and Vinicius illustrate widening gap between Madrid and Barca El Clasico: Alaba and Vinicius illustrate widening gap between Madrid and Barca

    David Alaba is one of few footballers who can claim to have experienced consistent success against Barcelona in the 21st century and he once again proved a thorn in their side as El Clasico went in Real Madrid's favour at Camp Nou.

    In three games against Barca for Bayern Munich, Alaba enjoyed a 100 per cent win record.

    Bayern scored 15 goals and conceded just two across those matches, eight of those coming in Die Roten's incredible Champions League quarter-final win of 2020.

    And the Austria international remains unbeaten versus the Blaugrana, his stunning left-foot finish helping settle a game in which Barca misfired in their first Clasico since Lionel Messi's departure and Madrid's brightest young talent rose to the occasion.

     

    Alaba opens his account in style

    Alaba's goal, his first since joining Madrid, was one worthy of winning a fixture of such magnitude. Having won the ball from Memphis Depay on the edge of his own box, he surged forward before finding Vinicius Junior on the left flank.

    The former Bayern star initially wanted the return pass but Vinicius eschewed that option, instead playing a superb ball to Rodrygo Goes in the centre.

    Rodrygo's pass to find Alaba continuing his charge was inch-perfect, only bettered by the quality of a blistering finish from just inside the area.

    Barca struggled to deal with Madrid's threat down the left flank throughout, Vinicius taking the chance to emerge as the star of a Clasico absent its departed modern-day leading man.

    Vinicius shines in the spotlight

    Vinicius went into the fixture having scored seven goals and provided the assist for three in all competitions. He did not add to either of those tallies but his influence across the Brazilian's 87 minutes on the pitch was obvious,

    Ensuring Sergino Dest endured a difficult afternoon at both ends of the pitch, Vinicius attempted a game-high eight dribbles, four of which were successful.

    No player on the field participated in (20) or won more duels (10) as Vinicius excelled at putting Barca under pressure.

    Only Depay (six) and Ansu Fati (seven) had more touches in the opposition box, yet Barca's inability to make the most of those touches was telling.

    Barca bereft of attacking inspiration

    Alaba's shot that gave Madrid the lead had an Expected Goals (xG) value of 0.08, reflecting the difficulty he should have had in beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    It came seven minutes after Dest had blazed high over the crossbar with the goal seemingly at his mercy from close range. Barca did not have a chance as presentable until Sergio Aguero scored with a point-blank effort from effectively the final kick of the game after Lucas Vazquez had put it to bed with Madrid's second goal.

    Barca finished with 12 shots but only two on target. Madrid hit the target with five of their 10 efforts. Nine of Barca's shots came from inside the box but they ended a frustrating encounter with only two 'big chances' compared to three for Los Blancos.

    Those numbers are reflective of a game in which, without Messi there to stretch Madrid's shape, Carlo Ancelotti's men succeeded in staying deep and compact and hitting Barca on the counter, which they twice did to devastating effect.

    When Barca got into the final third, the lack of creativity and threat in contrast to Madrid was startling.

    Ronald Koeman could do nothing to prevent Messi from leaving under the financial pressures faced by Barca and he certainly cannot be blamed for a howitzer of a strike from Alaba that tilted matters in Madrid's favour.

    Yet there will surely be questions asked as to how a man who played under Johan Cruyff at Barca can oversee a team that, at least on Sunday, was so desperately short of the attacking flair that has for so long defined this famous club.

    The final score may have looked tight but, in the post-Messi era, the gap between Barca and their arch-rivals is a chasm.

  • Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool: Hat-trick for Salah and Pogba dismissed in Red Devils humiliation Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool: Hat-trick for Salah and Pogba dismissed in Red Devils humiliation

    Mohamed Salah maintained his scintillating form with a hat-trick and Paul Pogba was sent off as Liverpool hammered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's shambolic Manchester United 5-0 at Old Trafford.

    Liverpool humiliated their fierce rivals to pile more pressure on Red Devils boss Solskjaer, with Jurgen Klopp celebrating 200 wins as manager of the Merseyside club in dream fashion.

    United were blown away as they went in at half-time four goals down for the first time in a Premier League game, making it all too easy for the Reds as Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were on target before Salah struck twice.

    The magnificent Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half, taking his goal tally for the season to 15, before substitute Pogba was dismissed for a poor challenge on Keita.

    Salah has now scored in 10 consecutive games and Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 matches, while United are in disarray after the most chastening of defeats in their own backyard.

    Keita silenced the United faithful when he capitalised on poor defending to slide beyond David de Gea with his right foot after being slipped in by Salah.

    That strike in the fifth minute was the Reds' earliest at Old Trafford in the Premier League and they did not have long to wait for a second, Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross giving Jota a tap-in after a mix-up between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

    Liverpool, already without the injured Fabinho, lost James Milner midway through the first half but Salah put them out of sight with a double before the break after Alisson had denied Mason Greenwood.

    The abysmal Red Devils were all over the place and the ruthless Egypt forward made them pay, finishing with his right foot when he was picked out by Keita and tucking home with his left from close range just before a half-time whistle that was greeted with loud boos.

    Salah completed his treble five minutes into the second half, racing onto Jordan Henderson's incisive pass before beating De Gea with a clinical left-foot finish after Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside.

    United's day took yet another turn for the worse when Pogba was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Keita following a VAR check, having initially been shown a yellow card on the hour mark.

    Keita was unable to continue and the United players look like they would rather not, as only a brilliant save from De Gea prevented Alexander-Arnold adding a sixth.

    Andrew Robertson's block sent the ball crashing against the crossbar late on to prevent Edinson Cavani from finding the back of the net and there were inevitably more boos at the final whistle to end a totally one-sided contest.

  • Ancelotti proud of Real Madrid suffering together in Barcelona triumph Ancelotti proud of Real Madrid suffering together in Barcelona triumph

    Carlo Ancelotti hailed Real Madrid's togetherness and defensive work after Los Blancos defeated Barcelona 2-1 in Sunday's Clasico to return to the top of LaLiga.

    David Alaba opened the scoring on his Clasico debut before Lucas Vazquez tapped in a second in stoppage time as Madrid seemed to be cruising to their fourth consecutive win over Barca in all competitions – their best run since 1965.

    Sergio Aguero's pulled one back at Camp Nou but that was not enough as the hosts went winless in a fifth straight LaLiga Clasico, their longest run without a victory against any team in the competition since May 2008.

    However, at times Madrid had to soak up significant pressure and Ancelotti was delighted with his side's resolute defending as Ronald Koeman became only the second coach to suffer defeat in his first three Clasico meetings.

    "We can compete, the team is very solid," Ancelotti started as he spoke to Movistar Plus post-match.

    "We have played against a great one, who has played a great game. We have suffered, but we have known how to suffer together. Not to lose control when you don't have the ball, it is also a virtue.

    "We have done very well. On the defensive aspect, I liked it a lot. We would all like to put pressure on the whole field, but it can't be done.

    "It was a practical game. This team has this quality to play against and we have to enjoy it. Barca has complicated the game for us. It was not simple.

    "I'm happy to win, El Clasico is the most important game. We are happy, but unfortunately, this is only three points."

    Thibaut Courtois was required to make just the one save in a quiet game for the Belgium international but sustained a slight knock late on, revealing he was suffering while kicking the ball.

    "Here you have to defend," Courtois told Movistar Plus after the match. "It is important to be well organized. Barca will be there until the end, winning here is good "

    "We were always good, they didn't have chances until that final goal. We have to be more focused, because with two minutes remaining, with the stadium squeezing everything could happen [after Aguero's goal].

    "I felt a pain when kicking, I could continue, I hope it is nothing serious."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.