F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg has told fans to brace for more wheel-to-wheel contact between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen between now and the end of the season as the pair fight for the driver’s title. The Mercedes man currently holds an eight-point lead over Verstappen, but such a narrow margin means little with so many races still to go.
The rivalry between the pair came to a head when their cars touched at the British Grand Prix, a collision which saw Verstappen career off the track and into the tyre barrier.
The Dutchman was taken to hospital for precautionary checks and did not finish the race. Hamilton was slapped with a 10-second penalty, but still went on to win and celebrate wildly in front of a home crowd at Silverstone.
There was no fight on the track between the pair at the Hungarian Grand Prix just before the mid-season break, meaning we may see a battle on the track between the pair at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend for the first time since that crash.
Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate Rosberg is excited to see what this enthralling duel will produce over the course of the rest of the season, but warned both drivers of the dangers of taking their rivalry too far.
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He told Motorsport Magazine: “As long as no one gets hurt, it’s awesome.
“It’s a such a great battle for us fans to watch, because they’re both the best of their generation. They’re both the best wheel-to-wheel racers.
“They know how to take the cars to the absolute limit when it’s wheel-to-wheel. And so inevitably, there’s going to be contact.
“There already was [before Silverstone], in Imola. And Lewis I think now is not backing out anymore. Max will never back out. So it’s exciting stuff.”
Verstappen is yet to win at Spa in his career, but he will have the majority of the crowd behind him as he resumes his title challenge on Sunday.
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The following weekend will see the drivers head to Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix, where the Red Bull man will be keen to win in his home country.
Those two races should give Verstappen a good chance of overtaking Hamilton in the standings but, whatever happens, Rosberg can only see the pair’s rivalry growing from here.
He said: “There is a basis of respect, but we’re not at the destructive phase yet. I think it’s just building up. Now let’s see where it goes.
“They could have also already collided in Silverstone three corners before when they were going down the straight. You could have had a Webber/Vettel situation – remember when they collided in Turkey? It was very close.
“I mean, Max is hyper-aggressive, and Lewis has stopped backing out. So it’s going to be interesting for them to manage that.”
And, when asked who he thought would prevail come the end of the season, the German wasn’t willing to stick his neck out.
“It seems that the car performance just varies from one track to another. And it’s just so amazing for us, because you never know who’s going to win,” he said.
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