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F1: Verstappen ready to renew rivalry with Lewis Hamilton

The frigid rivalry between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes after their chaotic 2021 Formula 1 title battle has thawed in 2022. Max Verstappen feels it is because the two teams are not going head to head for the title, but is certain the rivalry will heat up once Mercedes get their act together.

As Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen collided on track, the team principals of Mercedes and Red Bull, Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, clashed during press conferences last year. The hatred had spread into both the camps, especially with the drivers refusing to give an inch to each other during their battles.

It boiled over in the final races, as both teams began accusing each other of bending the regulations to their benefit. Verstappen eventually won the 2021 Drivers’ championship, but it was not without major controversy, with many still believing that Hamilton was the rightful champion.

Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen is likely to increase his 12-point lead in the next two F1 races
Zak Mauger/POOL

In 2022, however, the relationship has calmed down between Red Bull and Mercedes after the latter failed to build a race winning car. Verstappen and Red Bull are battling Charles Leclerc and Ferrari for the title, and thus far the rivalry has remained cordial between the Austrian and Italian outfits.

Verstappen feels Mercedes’ lack of competitiveness is the reason for the minimal conflict between the two teams. The Dutch racer is certain that once the Silver Arrows get back to challenging at the front, the rivalry will be renewed.

“We all have a lot of respect for each other. If someone does well, you can of course just say that to each other,” Verstappen said, as quoted on RN365.

“Last year’s conflict was not necessarily between the drivers, but more between the teams. We are, of course, not fighting with Mercedes at the moment,” he added.

Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc POOL via AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

“I think it will be different if we do fight each other again. Maybe at the end of the season. We’ll see.”

Mercedes are the third best team on the grid this season behind Red Bull and Ferrari. The eight-time constructors’ champions are slowly clawing back their deficit, and Verstappen is certain the Silver Arrows will be challenging for wins sooner rather than later.

He also feels Mercedes’ success is track dependent this season after they proved to be at par with Ferrari and Red Bull at the British Grand Prix before struggling in Austria. The Silver Arrows cars are again expected to be competitive when the F1 juggernaut arrives at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France on July 24.

They are better than at the start of the year, but they need just a little bit more,” Verstappen said. “They are not bad over a single lap, but in the race on Sunday you saw that we got away from them quickly.”

“I also think it also has to do with the different circuits. At Silverstone they were very fast in the race.”

Max Verstappen
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is looking to build on his win in Saudi Arabia
ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP
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