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Lewis Hamilton’s comments about Formula One rival Max Verstappen suggest the Dutch driver is beginning to get to the seven-time world champion, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Thursday.

Hamilton, the sport’s most successful driver of all time with 100 pole positions and 98 wins, suggested at the Monaco Grand Prix that, unlike him, Verstappen “feels perhaps he has a lot to prove”.

Red Bull’s Verstappen, Hamilton’s closest challenger, said he had nothing to prove.

“Lewis loves all that rubbish,” Horner told Sky Sports television when asked about any mind games that might be being played.

“Max does his own thing, he’s his own man. The fact that Lewis feels he needs to do that means that actually Max is probably getting under his skin a little.”

Hamilton is 14 points ahead of Verstappen after winning three of four races. The Dutch youngster won the other race and has finished second three times, with the pair going wheel to wheel in every round.

“We’re only at the beginning of the championship,” Horner said. “Can you imagine what it will be like if they are that close going into the last few races?”

Horner also enjoyed making a few digs at Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s team boss.

The Austrian said earlier that Mercedes, which is 29 points clear of Red Bull, was already 90% focused on next year’s championship and major rule changes.

He has also pointed a finger at Red Bull in a controversy over “bendy” rear wings and its recruiting of Mercedes’ engine staff as it prepares to build its own power units after Honda’s exit at the end of the year.

“I think Toto’s more focused on our rear wing than he is on next year at the moment,” Horner said.

“I don’t know what’s going on in their business. Toto knows what’s going on in everybody’s business.”

Horner said he would be surprised if Mercedes had really switched so much focus to 2022, given the intensity of the championship battle.

“Can Mercedes afford just to turn everything off? You’d be a very brave person to do that after four races,” he added.

The Briton joked also that he would be spending Friday’s rest day “looking at and studying article 3.8 to try and understand it.”

The article in the technical regulations relates to components influencing aerodynamic performance.

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