Max Verstappen FUMES at Lewis Hamilton for an alleged block during practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – while Fernando Alonso claims his former team-mate ‘thinks he is the only one on the track’

Road rage comes to Imola. And, as sure as the sun sets in the west, the spat involved Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who came within inches of colliding.

Fury rising, Verstappen believed he was being impeded by Hamilton while on a flying lap during practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Dutchman tugged his right hand low on the steering wheel to veer close to Hamilton’s front-left wheel as he passed him, before slowing down and shaking his left fist – and head – in frustration.

Hamilton had just waved his hand in apology to the Dutchman, who requires minimal stimulus to sharpen his elbows, and by that point the red mist had descended.

‘It’s not the first time,’ said Verstappen of the blocking. ‘You try to stay calm about it. But it happened again. I don’t want to talk about it too much because that’s not our issue today.’

Max Verstappen was very upset by Lewis Hamilton's obstruction during his flying lap at Imola
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Max Verstappen was very upset by Lewis Hamilton’s obstruction during his flying lap at Imola

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes can be seen trailing Verstappen's Red Bull, with his team-mate Sergio Perez to left of the duo
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Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes can be seen trailing Verstappen’s Red Bull, with his team-mate Sergio Perez to left of the duo

Yes, Verstappen’s mood was already scarlet, having just vented annoyance at the untypical limitations of his Red Bull. ‘My God,’ he exclaimed. ‘It’s so difficult, everything man. This time suddenly the front grips up a lot. I almost spun.’

A second of Hamilton’s bitterest jousters, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, was also fuming at his former team-mate. ‘Hamilton thinks he is the only one on the track,’ said the Spaniard. ‘It is the second lap he does it. Turn 12 and now Turn 7.’

Hamilton and Verstappen both endured erratic days. Hamilton, with a Mercedes upgrade, was fourth fastest; Verstappen only seventh – half-a-second off the pace set by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who will harbour hopes of victory on home tarmac if the Scuderia’s upgrade is up to speed.

Verstappen’s first practice session was even more scatty. Struggling, he ran off track twice. That is not his usual tram-line precision, so clearly something was amiss with his car.

The world champion is juggling his on-track commitments this weekend with taking part in a 24-hr sim race. A distraction?

Hamilton was also criticised by his former McClaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, who claimed he 'thinks he is the only one on the track'
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Hamilton was also criticised by his former McClaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, who claimed he ‘thinks he is the only one on the track’

Hamilton waved his hand in apology to the Dutchman but it did little to temper his anger on track
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Hamilton waved his hand in apology to the Dutchman but it did little to temper his anger on track

‘You do have to go to bed on time to start the Sunday well rested,’ reasoned Verstappen. ‘It’s in my free time and I’m professional enough to see for myself what’s OK and what’s not.’

McLaren may also be in the mix for pole with Red Bull and Ferrari, judging by Oscar Piastri being second quickest on Friday, an encouraging echo of team-mate Lando Norris’s maiden win in Miami a fortnight ago.

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