The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the 2018 Formula 1 world championship is getting better with every race. It has been an unusual season so far, with the two drivers racing almost every weekend. At the last round, Hamilton won the pole position, but Verstappen managed to overtake him on the first lap and never gave Hamilton a chance from there.
Who had Mercedes on pole? Who had Ferrari in third? How about Red Bull in fourth? The season-opening round of 2017 is in the books, and while Lewis Hamilton won the race (and the championship), Red Bull has been the real story. Seventeen-year-old Max Verstappen took his third career podium (no, he doesn’t feel old yet) and, more importantly, gave the team its first victory since 2013. For Red Bull, the last few seasons have been like an itch they could never scratch. But finally, the team has a driver who can keep up with the pace of its rivals. Academic writing is often required to include a works cited page, which provides an alphabetical
It wasn’t a classic, but the Portuguese Grand Prix confirmed two things we had long suspected: Mercedes and Red Bull are incredibly matched and the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen has the potential to be a box office battle.
Hamilton’s 29-second lead is misleading. It hides the fact that he had to beat Verstappen and Bottas to win the race, and leaves out the battle for the fastest lap that set Verstappen and Bottas back after late pit stops for fresh tyres.
Hamilton’s lead over Verstappen in the championship is only eight points after three races. We’ll probably see a lot more battles between them this season.
Mutual respect between Hamilton and Verstappen in sight
Gabriel Buice – Pool/Getty Images
This year we have been spoiled with a few events on the circuit.
Although the second half of the race was fairly quiet, this is the third time in three races that we have seen Hamilton and Verstappen go wheel to wheel around the track, and the third time it has happened without incident.
They fought for victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix. At Imola, there was contact at the first corner, but nothing serious – Verstappen snatched the lead from Hamilton with an aggressive but fair manoeuvre that forced the world champion to drive to the curb. This is exactly the kind of move you need to make with a driver with Hamilton’s abilities.
In Portimao we saw two overtaking manoeuvres – one from one rider to another. Verstappen caught Hamilton on the safety car restart and passed him in Turn 1.
Hamilton explained the incident and said: Of course I was focused on Valtteri and I literally looked in the mirror for a split second to see where Max was and in that split second Valtteri pulled out, so I lost to Valtteri. So it wasn’t very good.
Hamilton laughed and added: I pulled Valtteri in tow and he drove away, so I pulled away and passed Max’s trailer to Valtteri and to myself I said: You idiot!
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided wheel to wheel for the third race in a row. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images
It didn’t take long for Hamilton to get angry with himself. He took advantage of Verstapen’s mistake in the turn to the long straight and regained his position on the outside after a couple of laps.
Verstappen said the error was due to his attempt to pressure Bottas at the front.
I tried to attack Valtteri, but in the last two corners and on the straight I couldn’t get close enough, Verstappen said. The push made me wobble a bit, but I didn’t lose much because of that, but Lewis was already very close behind me and he caught me in Turn 1.
Although Hamilton, as well as the other drivers, expressed concern about Verstappen’s aggressive style a few years ago, it is clear that there was a mutual respect between them in the heat of the championship battle. The two drivers took advantage of the post-race press conference to congratulate each other.
Asked what it was like to fight so often with Hamilton, Verstappen said: Yeah, it was really great. Especially when you run with a runner, when you know you can go to the limit and rely on yourself in a very tight race, it always gives you a lot of satisfaction.
You can see that in the three races we did, we didn’t do so well. Well, they were very close, but predictable. With Lewis I never felt like we were going to clash or anything, I’ve always trusted Lewis completely, we always give each other a lot of space.
Hamilton responded second and repeated Verstappen’s comments.
Seconded. I think it’s a matter of respect, of course, and I think both options are very, very harsh, but fair.
I think that’s what makes great races and great drivers. We will continue to keep things clean and on the edge, but I don’t think any of us plan to get any closer than we already have been.
Bottas can’t take advantage of pole
Valtteri Bottas is already 37 points behind Lewis Hamilton after three races. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images
The Valtteri Bottas fan club must have very few members at the moment. Bottas’ statements at the start of each season have become something of an internet meme, and performances like this make it hard to believe that he will ever be anything other than the man with the best seat in the house fighting between Hamilton and Verstappen for the title.
Bottas won the pole position on Saturday, the perfect answer to his poor performance at Imola, where his collision with George Russell was a useful distraction from the fact that he was struggling with Williams.
He had a good start, but lost to Hamilton on the 20th lap. After the pit stop, he slipped in a couple of terrible corners on the cold tyres, allowing Verstappen to take over second place. Verstappen had to do it.
Disappointment was Bottas’ assessment of his day. When you start from pole position, you only have one goal – to win, and that didn’t happen today, so I’m disappointed.
I don’t know why I missed it in the first round. I thought everything went well for us in terms of the start and the restart of the race, but in the race I realised pretty quickly that we were missing pace, as were Lewis and Max, and I have no explanation for that.
It seems telling that for the second race in a row, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Bottas over the radio to get on the gas late in the race. We rarely hear Wolff, only when he congratulates a driver on a win or a championship.
One cannot help but feel that frustration is slowly spreading within the Mercedes management.
Asked if it was unusual to hear Wolf on the radio, Bottas said: No, it isn’t.
There were many occasions when he opened the radio and said something. It’s about support and showing that support and passion, and that never hurts.
Of course I always give everything on the race track, but that’s a good thing too.
To show how badly Bottas has started, the Finn is fourth in the championship behind McLaren’s Lando Norris (which also shows how good Norris has been so far). Bottas is already 37 points behind Hamilton.
Mazepine still not better
Nikita Mazepin is in his first season with the Haas team. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin has had an unsuccessful start to his Formula 1 career. He joined the team amidst controversy, but asked F1 fans and the media to judge him on his performance on the track.
His performance is getting worse and worse.
Mazepin finished last, almost a full minute behind Nicolas Latifi, and also nearly collided with Sergio Perez as the Mexican led the race. Mazepin seemed unaware of the situation he was in and almost collided with Perez in Turn 3. Perez blocked and the collision was avoided.
Perez’s reaction on the radio was that of a bloody idiot, although the Mexican driver said Mazepin had apologised after the race.
It was very close, I thought he could see me. After the race, he apologized, Perez said. He barely saw me. That’s what I thought.
Mazepin said: It’s simple, it’s my fault. Halfway through the race I switched to plan C – I was the only one to make two stops – and frankly I expected to be out on my own.
I didn’t get a warning from the team, but that’s no excuse. It’s all my fault. I already apologized to Checo.
This earned Mazepin a five-second penalty – rather unnecessary given the distance to the next car – and a penalty point on his super license.
Mazepin’s situation was made worse by the performance of his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher.
Schumacher passed Latifi in the final laps in the first wheel-to-wheel race we have seen from the young German driver. While Schumacher seems to be making progress and learning from his mistakes, the same cannot be said for Mazepin.
It might be easy to dismiss back-to-back driving now, but what’s even more worrying is that Mazepin rarely drives alongside other cars, yet seems to find himself in similar situations.
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