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Formula 1

Hill compares Hamilton/Verstappen battle to Mansell/Piquet title fight

Damon Hill, the 1996 F1 World Champion, has compared this year's title fight to the tense battles between Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet.

Verstappen Hamilton
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Damon Hill believes that the points swinging and momentum shifts between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen this season echo that of title fights more than 30 years ago, when Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell battled for supremacy at Williams.

This year's title fight has seen both Hamilton and Verstappen enjoy the lead on more than one occasion as momentum has shifted back and forth, which is a particularly rare occurance even in closely-fought championship battles.

Hill, reflecting on Red Bull's triumph at the United States Grand Prix for the F1 Nation podcast, said that he feels this year's title fight is possibly the most intense in that regard since Piquet and Mansell in 1986 and 1987.

"It was great, that's what they love. They relish it, don't they? They love those challenges, but it's been many years," said Hill when asked about Red Bull's victory at the Circuit of the Americas, and whether Mercedes will be out for revenge in Mexico.

"I'm trying to rack my brains to think when I've seen a title lead in a championship change as many times as this during the season. It's a real switch back and I think it's possibly Piquet and Mansell. How long do you go back?"

But Hill reckons Verstappen's 12-point lead at this point of the season is indicative of the momentum slowly shifting back to Red Bull, who lead the Drivers' Championship despite several big points losses in the middle of the season.

"I think Max will feel like he's got two fingers on the trophy," Hill said.

"It's not a whole one-handed grip or even a two-hand grip yet, but it's definitely two fingers and I think he'll know that. I think there'll be a little bit more of a releasing of pressure for him going into the next few races."

F1 journalist Tom Clarkson agreed with Hill, saying that he believes the psychological advantage is now with the Dutch driver.

"I think he's given two fingers to Lewis Hamilton, I don't think the points gap is relevant at this stage," he said.

"I think 12 points can ebb and flow. We're gonna see many more twists and turns, so I think the points doesn't matter.

"I think to beat Lewis at COTA, his track, this has been a Mercedes stronghold. For them to outwit them a little bit, but also to have the faster car, is a huge, huge psychological boost to Red Bull and I think they'll ride that for a while."

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