Lewis Hamilton cools off relations with F1 rival Max Verstappen

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They could hardly be any closer to the top of the Formula 1 standings, but as Lewis Hamilton prepares for a race he still describes in the warmest terms, the Mercedes driver has hinted that relations with his rival for the title are pretty cool.

The championship battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen is close and tense, especially after their collisions at Silverstone and Monza earlier this year. Asked Thursday before the United States Grand Prix on Sunday whether this season’s events have changed their relationship, Hamilton was wary. “Not really much to say. We have limited communication, ”he said.

“Some pilots hang more than others,” he added. “I wouldn’t say I’m particularly close, in particular, with anyone here. So like last year, we saw each other on the track and said hello. Do the same this year. It’s no different for me personally.

With six races to go, there’s a good chance the title is still on the line when the campaign culminates in Abu Dhabi on December 12. Hamilton is chasing his fifth consecutive world championship – now chasing the keyword as he seeks to close a shortfall on Red Bull driver Verstappen. “A lot can happen in these six races,” said Hamilton.

The 36-year-old is on the hunt for what would only be his second victory since the British Grand Prix in July. A two point lead advantage for Hamilton before the previous race at Istanbul Park two weeks ago turned into a six point deficit after a fifth place finish, Verstappen second behind Valtteri Bottas.

Turkey was the story of a four-letter word and a 10-place grid penalty, with the reigning world champion cursing his team’s cautious strategy as he was ordered to stop while he was third at the end of the race and joined the traffic in fifth. He had started 11th, paying the price of installing a new engine.

The good news for Hamilton and his team is that the Mercedes’ formidable pace in Istanbul was a worrying sign for their rivals, and they generally thrive in the United States. A Mercedes has taken pole position in each of the last six races in Austin and Hamilton has won five of the eight races held on the Texas track, although his last victory dates back to 2017. Verstappen has never won on the Circuit of the Americas, his best second place result in 2018.

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The race didn’t take place in 2020. “It’s amazing to be back,” said Hamilton. “It’s a place of great memories,” he added – both behind the wheel and in his personal life, given his love for New York City and his annual off-season vacation to Hawaii.

Understandably, then, Hamilton is thrilled that a second American race will join the calendar next year when Miami makes its debut. “The United States Grand Prix is ​​fantastic and it’s such a big country, having just one race here is definitely not enough,” he said. “They are crazy about sports here and there is never enough sports, they always want more action. “

Verstappen looked dejected despite his lead. “The team’s result was good in Turkey, the overall performance was not amazing,” he said. “We still have a bit of work to do, we want to be faster. When asked if he thinks Mercedes has stepped up the pace, the 24-year-old replied: “Yes, of course they did. But there is nothing we can do about it, so we have to focus on ourselves.


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