F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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An avid Lewis Hamilton fan paid for a plane to provide a flyover message as the British driver enters the fray at the Dutch Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion is set to receive a frosty reception amidst a hostile atmosphere of fans supporting Max Verstappen during this epic title battle.
The Dutchman led the world championship but dismal outings at Silverstone and the Hungaroring have opened the door for Hamilton.
The Brit holds a slender three point lead over Verstappen in the title race after the 23-year-old was declared the winner of the Belgian Grand Prix, which ran for just over two laps behind a safety car before being aborted due to hazardous conditions.
It is expected that Hamilton will be jeered by Dutch fans at Zandvoort this weekend – but the 36-year-old received some exceptional support from his own fans.
Neil Steele, a fan from Lancashire, attempted to silence Verstappen’s army by spending £1,600 on a plane to fly a banner over the circuit.
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The banner reads: ‘7 X WDC. Simply lovely. #TEAMLH’.
The 41-year-old fan wanted to give his hero some support ahead of what could be a huge weekend in the championship title race.
“It’s a cheeky opportunity to show Lewis some extra support as he steps into the lion’s den here in Max’s back yard,” Steele told the Sun.
“I hope [it’s] a small way to get one up on the 70,000 Dutch fans that will surround and outnumber us few Lewis and Mercedes fans here at the track this weekend.
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“We may be few, but as Lewis says – still we rise!”
Hamilton was booed by Verstappen fans at both the Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix, and chief organiser Jan Lammers called on the 105,000 expected in attendance to respect the reigning world champion.
“Show your decency when a seven-time world champion comes here,” he said. “We should be proud of that.
“It is downright antisocial and unwise to yell ‘boo’. Respect is something you have to show if you want to get it for yourself.
“As motorsport enthusiasts, we have to show that we handle this situation in a better way. Make sure that other people don’t have to be ashamed.”
Meanwhile, Verstappen refused to urge fans not to boo and likened the atmosphere to that at football games.
He also insisted it was not up to him to stop the fans from doing as they please.
The Dutch Grand Prix is the second of a triple-header in the F1 calendar, with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza next weekend.
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