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Max Verstappen

How will the Verstappen and Hamilton clash change the 2021 title battle?

The controversial first-lap incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix has already had an impact on the World Championship standings. But, according to Damon Hill, there could be further implications going forwards when it comes to the battle between the two drivers.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

Damon Hill believes that the clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix could have various implications for the battle between them going forwards.

Hamilton was given a 10-second penalty for his role in the incident, which saw Verstappen crash out of the race on the first lap following contact with his title rival. The fact that Hamilton went on to win the Grand Prix whilst Verstappen and Red Bull came away with no points means that the latter's lead in the World Championship has been significantly reduced.

As well as this impact on the title fight, Hill thinks that there will be a change to the psychological dynamic between Hamilton and Verstappen.

"It was a statement of intent, wasn't it?" Hill told the F1 Nation podcast. "It was Lewis saying, 'Listen, I'm a street fighter and if you're going to get rough with me I'm going to have to show you what I've got.' And he's done that.

"Psychologically, that has made a dent in Max, it has to. It's made him realise that Lewis, in a wheel-to-wheel battle, is not going to back down, and that's got to go down in the mental notebook."

Meanwhile F1 journalist Tom Clarkson isn't totally convinced that the incident will lead to changes, particularly when it comes to Verstappen's approach.

"Do you guys believe it will change the rules of engagement going forward? I'm not convinced it will," Clarkson said.

"I think Max will be as uncompromising as he's been. I can't see it changing."

Bearing this in mind, Hill believes that F1 race director Michael Masi may have to intervene if the battle were to get out of hand.

"At which point, Michael Masi is going to have to step in and say, 'Guys, I know you're fighting for a world title and you'd probably take your crash helmets off and have a stand-up fight in the paddock if it came to it, but you can't be allowed to do this with this sport. There are safety issues that we have to consider at these speeds.'

"So he has to somehow instil discipline, and he's going to have to issue penalties if two cars collide."

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