Five races that intensified the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

27-07-2021 10:00

The battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton has intensified after the Brit took out his title rival on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix. Hamilton won the race but this incident felt inevitable with their rivalry beginning to simmer. This coming weekend sees the drivers return to Hungary, where in 2019 Hamilton hunted down the Dutchman on fresh tyres to win the race. We thought we’d go back and look back at five key races since Hungary that intensified their rivalry.

Hungary 2019

We’ll start with the Hugarian Grand Prix of 2019. Max Verstappen’s maiden pole position, he’d stunned Mercedes who all of a sudden were playing catch up. Lewis Hamilton wasn’t even on the front row, starting third behind Bottas, however, damage to his front wing on the first lap all but ended his hopes. Hamilton went for the overcut but was unsuccessful and couldn’t pass Verstappen so Mercedes opted for a two stop strategy leaving Hamilton to hunt down Verstappen on fresh medium tyres giving him 22 laps to do so. With ten laps to go he was 12 seconds down but by lap 66 and was in front and streaking off into the distance. A masterclass from Mercedes and Hamilton but it was the first real dual between the pair.

Abu Dhabi 2020

Now Mercedes were emphatic in 2020, utterly dominant, but Max did his best with his materials and come the season finale he was the fastest man on track, setting the tone for this season. He topped FP1, FP3 and qualifie on pole before  He comfortably won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman led every lap from pole and never looked threatened and in all honesty it was a pretty awful race in a season full of some great ones, but it set the tone for this season, giving Red Bull a platform to build on into 2021.

Bahrain 2021

Now it heats up. This year’s season opener was a barn stormer. It was evident in pre-season that Red Bull had closed the gap on Mercedes thanks to some regulation changes and Honda’s improved Power unit initially intended for 2022 before they chose to withdraw from the sport. Verstappen on pole again for the season opener in Bahrain, but once again we saw split strategies, Hamilton would go to the end on hard tyres and Verstappen would have fresher tyres at the end. Verstappen caught Hamilton on lap 52 and overtook him, but crucially went off the track and had to give up the place, which Hamilton never relinquished. There was controversey with both teams expressing confusion over track limits where Verstappen made the move, but Hamilton and Mercedes ultimately took the victory.

France 2021

If I had my way with Paul Ricard, it’d be nowhere near the Formula 1 calendar, but there’s years race in France was a banger. It was roles reversed from Spain a few weeks earlier. Max Verstappen on a two stop strategy hunting both Mercedes drivers down. Despite qualifying on pole Hamilton took an early lead after the red bull man made an error. The call for a two stop was made on lap 32 and on the penultimate lap Verstappen made it count, sweeping past for the win using a strategy that we’d become familiar with Mercedes perfecting. It was an important win for Red Bull who emphasised that they were here for the long run.

Britain 2021

Well this one was over after less than a lap, after winning the sprint race Max Verstappen was on pole but Hamilton was on his tail from the get go and attempted to overtake on the inside into copse. Hamilton clipped the red bull’s rear right wheel sending Verstappen spinning into the barriers and out of the race. Despite a ten second penalty Hamilton would win the race, which Red Bull weren’t happy about with Marko even calling for a suspension. We’ve done a couple of videos on that so you can check them out! 

The Hamilton Verstapen rivalry is heating up and something is telling me we aren’t even at boiling point yet.

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