Hamilton’s title fight experience won’t be critical in championship

Red Bull driver Verstappen is currently bidding for his maiden world championship, and led Hamilton by 32 points following the Austrian Grand Prix at the start of July.

But a retirement at Silverstone following a first-lap clash with Hamilton and a ninth-place finish in Hungary after picking up damage on the opening lap saw Verstappen slip eight points behind his Mercedes rival in the standings ahead of F1’s return at Spa this weekend.

2021 marks Verstappen’s first proper involvement in an F1 title race as he looks to deny Hamilton a record-breaking eighth championship.

But Verstappen did not believe that Hamilton’s greater experience of championship fights will play a big part in this year’s title battle, saying that all the top drivers would be aware of what they had to do.

“Personally, I don’t think so,” Verstappen said.

“The only advantage you can really have is just if you have a faster car. In this sport, it’s so dominant when you have a really good car.

“There’s so many good drivers in this sport but they don’t have the opportunity to fight at the front.

“So if you have seven titles or one or zero, I think at the end of the day, when you have spent a few years in F1, and especially more towards the front, like top five, you know that you have to try and finish every race.

“You know that you have to try and score the most available points every single weekend and I think all of us we always try and do our best and race in the best possible way.

“So, I don’t really see the advantage there.”

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Red Bull has continued to develop its RB16B car in order to take the fight to Mercedes, which brought its last upgrade of the season to the British Grand Prix last month.

Verstappen said that Red Bull was “very positive” that it could find a performance advantage over Mercedes after seeing the gap at the front fall in recent races.

“We had a lot of good races, just the last two didn’t go our way [for reasons] out of our control,” Verstappen said.

“Yeah, I’m very positive. The team is looking forward to getting started again and of course there’s still a lot of races to be held. Let’s see how it goes.”

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