Red Bull have put up some new artwork in Monaco that has been labelled “a change of tone”. A massive picture has been put up celebrating Max Verstappen’s championship victory over Lewis Hamilton last season. Verstappen’s team have not regularly boasted in this fashion about the title-winning Dutchman but they have done so here and the ‘champion wall’ is situated exactly where Hamilton will walk from the pits to Mercedes hospitality, meaning he cannot avoid seeing it.
Red Bull have previously played down celebrations in front of Hamilton in the aftermath of Verstappen’s sensational win in Abu Dhabi last season, but Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz was asked if there had been a change of tone. Kravitz replied: “Perhaps, we don’t know. Red Bull haven’t really spoken about the controversy in which the rules were applied in a way that they had never been applied before.
“To have the champion wall? Champions should it not be? Or wall of champions? I guess it’s something they were minded to put up there, if you have got a spare wall you may as well shout about your biggest asset at the moment.” Sky reporter Craig Slater said: “I think conspicuously Red Bull did not wallow in Verstappen’s triumph in the aftermath out of respect of how close it was all year, maybe to the upset that Lewis Hamilton rightly probably felt, having lost it in such circumstances. I think this is a change of tone it seems to me.”
Verstappen will begin the Monaco Grand Prix top of the overall standings, with a six-point lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Hamilton is currently sixth with 46 points, 74 behind Verstappen. Whether Hamilton races at Monaco is a big question, with the Englishman and the FIA set to come to blows over the seven-time champion’s jewellery. Hamilton had been told he must remove his necklaces, rings and earrings ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix or face action.
The FIA’s new president Mohammed ben Sulayem said they were going to clamp down on regulations around jewellery in Formula One this year, to which Hamilton replied: “I sent him [Ben Sulayem] a message, just reassuring him that I want to be an ally; I don’t want to fight with you guys over this. This is very silly.” Hamilton had an improved performance at the Spanish Grand Prix and will hope to carry that momentum into Monaco, if he is able to compete against his rival from last season.
While Verstappen, who has gained a reputation for throwing tantrums, bought his race engineer an ice cream after their strongly-worded radio messages at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix back in April, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. Verstappen will head into Monaco aiming for his fourth consecutive Grand Prix win, after recovering well from a disappointing start to the 2022 season. It is only the second time in the 24-year-old’s career that he has won three in a row.