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Monaco Grand Prix 2021

Why F1 needs to relish Hamilton and Verstappen's on track battles

Max Verstappen was not happy with some of the media asking questions about whether himself and Lewis Hamilton will inevitably collide during this year's Formula 1 season. RacingNews365.com explains why F1 needs to embrace every second of this year's title battle.

Column
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

How often is it that Formula 1's two top drivers have gone wheel to wheel at four consecutive races? It's never happened and no matter which side you may be on, you simply have to soak up every moment of the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen has been frustrated in the build-up to the Monaco Grand Prix after McLaren's Zak Brown said it was inevitable that Verstappen and Hamilton would collide.

“I honestly don’t know what to say any more about these things,” Verstappen told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press. “We never try to crash, do we? It’s just to make a few interesting headlines like that.

“I guess it will have a bit more viewers when you say 'it’s a matter of time', rather than saying 'we had some great races so far'."

In many ways, Verstappen is correct as most motorsport fans simply want to see good, hard racing. That's exactly what Verstappen and Hamilton have delivered so far.

There has been some controversy surrounding some of the moves with both drivers forcing the other off the track. But, the stewards have deemed the moves legal and many think it's hard but fair wheel to wheel action.

Bahrain: An epic opener

This year's Bahrain GP was one of the best F1 season-openers ever and it climaxed with Verstappen chasing down Hamilton towards the end of the race.

Verstappen tried to go around the outside of Hamilton and had the move done until he lost the rear and slid out wide, meaning he overtook the seven-time world champion off the track.

The intensity of the race set the tone for what was to come.

Imola: Verstappen sets a precedent

Verstappen launched off the wet startline in Imola to draw alongside Hamilton, momentarily having two wheels in the grass.

He had the inside and braked incredibly late, forcing Hamilton to go wide. Hamilton just about came away unscathed but that move was remembered by Hamilton, two weeks later.

It was remarkable how late both drivers braked without locking a wheel considering they had cold tyres, cold brakes and no knowledge of the wet track. Supreme racing driver instinct.

Portimao: Hamilton returns serve

Verstappen caught Hamilton unawares at the early safety car restart to make a vital move around the outside of the Mercedes driver. But, Hamilton came back with a brave overtake of his own.

A small mistake from Verstappen at the penultimate turn gave Hamilton a good enough slipstream to get to the inside going into Turn 1 before Verstappen could shut the door.

It was another wild move as the pit wall drew closer and closer as the pair travelled at speeds in excess of 180mph.

Verstappen tried to re-attack but Hamilton smartly placed his car in a position which meant there was nowhere for the Red Bull driver to go at Turn 3.

Spain: All-out attack

Verstappen was on the charge off the start once again, this time at the Spanish GP. Track position was thought to be crucial at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya which is why Verstappen simply dived his way up the inside of Hamilton to take the lead.

From there, both drivers were pushing hard and were in a league of their own. A two-stop strategy from Hamilton caught Red Bull out and the overtake for Hamilton with six laps to go was relatively easy compared to the other moves from this year.

Analysis

The Hamilton versus Verstappen battle has been one that everyone's been waiting for, and now we finally have it. They are both having to bring their A-game every weekend and it feels like this year's title could be decided at key moments.

A collision might happen, but if the rest of this season is even half as good as the opening four races have been, F1 in 2021 will go down as a classic.

The intensity between Mercedes and Red Bull will only get more fierce and both teams have to get everything right to beat the other. That's what's so great about this duel, you can't leave anything left on the table.

The same can be said about the drivers who have put on a brilliant show so far. The skill, bravery and the risk of some of the moves this year has been top notch and long may it continue.

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