Former F1 driver Damon Hill thinks that Max Verstappen is taking a different approach to battling Lewis Hamilton than Hamilton's former teammate Nico Rosberg did in the duel for the 2016 title.
After an increasingly tense rivalry had been unfolding between the Mercedes teammates, Rosberg managed to get the better of Hamilton and win the world championship before deciding to retire at the end of that year. Now Verstappen is fighting Hamilton and Hill believes that his approach is based more on his driving style than playing mind games.
"The way Nico beat Lewis was to needle him, and make life unpleasant," Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.
"And Lewis doesn't like that. He likes everything to be nice and sweet. I think Lewis is a lot tougher and more experienced now, but I think that Max doesn't look to me like he's playing games out of the car.
"He definitely is aggressive in the car and the car they've got now gets off the line brilliantly, so Lewis [and] Mercedes will definitely not be counting on getting to the corner first, even if they're on pole and Max is second.
"But he muscled through on lap one [in Spain] didn't he, he put his car in a compromised position. Lewis could have collided with him, he had to duck out of it, but that was like a punch to the gut on the first lap.
"But of course Lewis got him in the long run."
2021 has seen Hamilton have his strongest start to a season so far in his career, and Hill thinks that the seven-times world champion has taken a different approach this year.
"He's decided he's not going to do what he normally does, which is kind of gently through the season, build up some points and then press on just after the summer break, to get it in the bag so he can then knock off before winter and go on holiday.
"That's normally what he does! So it looks like he's going for the kill now."