Max Verstappen branded title rival Lewis Hamilton a "stupid idiot" after the pair went wheel to wheel in final practice for the American Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Verstappen appeared to be slowing down at the final corner in readiness for a flying lap, when Hamilton crept up on his inside and duly passed him.
The Dutchman responded by keeping pace with the seven-time world champion, and the sped down the main straight and into Turn 1 alongside each other, before the British driver took the inside line and went into Turn 2 ahead.
It prompted a furious reaction from Verstappen, 24, who flicked his middle finger at Hamilton before saying over team radio “Ha, stupid idiot.”
Red Bull race engineer Giampiero Lambiase quickly moved to calm him down by telling him to “ignore it, don’t worry about it”.
Verstappen later told reporters he didn't "really understand what happened there," but many F1 fans perceived the incident as Hamilton, 36, rattling his rival by playing mind games.
One fan tweeted a clip of the incident and said "Hamilton has Verstappen on strings and it’s only Friday," following up by adding "Mind games have begun with 6 races left, #8 is on its way."
With another replying with "Another punishing blow to Max’ psyche – nice Lewis!" while a third said "Max is like a petulant child he needs to calm down."
It's the latest instalment of a series of spats between the two drivers this season, ahead of a potentially pivotal race in Austin.
And it compounded a frustrating afternoon for the Dutchman, who ended second practice down in eighth place.
His teammate Sergio Perez was fastest from McLaren's Lando Norris, with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas third and fourth quickest respectively.
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest, ahead of Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Verstappen.
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"On the soft tyre I didn't put a lap, but overall, it's not easy out there you know,” the championship leader said afterwards.
“The track is quite bumpy and to find the right compromise with the car hasn't been the easiest so far.
“But I mean, there are a few positive things to look at. And we'll continue to work on that also overnight. It didn't particularly feel bad on the short run, it was just a mess with the traffic.”
Verstappen leads Hamilton by just six points in the drivers' standings, with the race in America one of six remaining this season.
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