Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton Ready for Challenge from Max Verstappen

By: Ashley McCubbin

Through each of the past seasons, the storyline has been about Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. However, there is a chance the championship tide could shift with Red Bull Racing showing signs of contending for the title with Max Verstappen.

“Each year they are talking about when you reach your peak and I’m trying to make sure that – well, I think timing is everything and I think I’m probably at that and Max is doing well at the moment too,” Hamilton said. “So it’s going to take everything and more for us to put in performances like this. But we love the challenge, I love the challenge, I still love what I do, so…”

There have been conversations similar to this in the past, with hope either trending towards Ferrari or Red Bull. However, this year has felt different so far – knowing Red Bull led pre-season testing, and backed up their pace in qualifying. Ideally, if it wasn’t for a track limits penalty, Verstappen could have gotten the upper-hand on Hamilton – and that’s not lost on the multi-time champion.

“Honestly I don’t recall how close the other seasons were exactly but this has got to have started off as one of the toughest, if not the (toughest),” Hamilton expressed. “I think Red Bull’s pace is incredibly strong, as you could see. We can’t match them in qualifying right now. That’s a big, big step for us but obviously I thought we could get closer within the race – but that was a little bit too close for my liking.

“The thing is, we just don’t know how much better they’ll be in other places that we go to – or how much worse, or how good… maybe our car’s better in other places than it is here, or maybe it’s worse, we’ll wait and find out. One thing’s for sure, we’ll work as hard as we can to improve it.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, is easily up for the challenge, having pushed to be in this situation through his past six years in Formula 1. It seems each year he has inched closer, steadily improving his overall average finish on the season, while capturing at least two checkered flags along the way.

One thing, though, is the fans will be the sure winners if everything comes together with a season-long battle brewing.

“I’m super excited and super happy for the fans, that they are excited,” Hamilton commented. “I think it’s something that all the fans have wanted for a long time. Of course, this is only one race, so we don’t know what the future holds in terms of… with the pace they have, they could be ahead a lot more, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to try and stay close in this battle and I hope for many more of these sorts of races with Max and Valtteri (Bottas). There’s a long way to go, 22… holy crap! I’ll be grey by the end of this!”

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