Damon Hill feels that Lewis Hamilton has stepped it up a gear in his quest for the 2021 world title, arguing that the Mercedes driver is often "semi-engaged" until the closing stages of a championship.
Hamilton claimed back-to-back victories in Brazil and Qatar to cut Verstappen's advantage from 19 points to eight, with 52 still up for grabs at the remaining two rounds of the season in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Hill, who won the F1 title with Williams in 1996, declared that the seven-time World Champion now appears to have "a spring in his step" as he chases what would be a record-breaking eighth crown.
"Hamilton is getting better and better"
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast after the Qatar Grand Prix, Hill commented: "I think [Hamilton's] been getting better and better.
"He does this. It seems to me [that] he goes on a kind of semi-engaged period in the middle of the season, and then when he needs to finish off the championship, he sort of becomes a completely, totally focused individual.
"[He's] gaining, closing the gap - [there's] definitely a spring in his step.”
Advantage Mercedes but it's far from over
Despite his positive assessment of Hamilton's chances, Hill doubts that either driver will be feeling comfortable with the situation.
"I don't think it's a time for happiness just yet," added Hill. "I think the tension is still too intense, it's too palpable.
"They're so close to the finish now and nobody really knows what's going to happen.
"Lewis won but he wasn't leaping up and down in celebration. I think he's been pretty cool about keeping his emotions in check, as has Max.
"Max didn't come out of that race thinking, 'Oh, it's a disaster, the championship is slipping away'. He thought he'd done a good job with what he could do.
"But the performance advantage was definitely there for Mercedes."
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