Max Verstappen discusses whether Lewis Hamilton will be a ‘dangerous threat’: PlanetF1

If Mercedes provide Lewis Hamilton with a car capable of challenging for the Drivers’ Championship, Max Verstappen expects his 2021 title rival to be in the thick of the title fight.

But, he says, that goes for any driver who has a car capable of fighting at the far end of the grid.

Hamilton has been Verstappen’s nemesis throughout the 2021 season as the two traded P1s and paint as they raced wheel-to-wheel for the world title, Verstappen winning it with his last-lap pass of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Their rivalry took a break last year when Mercedes wrestled with a disappointing car as Formula 1 heralded the arrival of the new aerodynamic era of ground effect.

However, that didn’t stop the two from colliding when they had the opportunity, Verstappen being penalized for their contact on the opening lap of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

This season many predict the battle will reignite as it seems unfathomable that Mercedes will not recover from last year’s woes, once again setting Verstappen and Hamilton on a collision course.

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The Dutchman was asked by Sky Sports’ Craig Slater if he believed Hamilton was still a “dangerous threat”, and he was quick with his response.

“Of course he is,” he said, “he is one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport.

“If he has the car to do it, he can fight again for the title.

“It’s the same for George, it’s the same for Charles, it’s the same for Lando. If you give them a car that can win a championship, they can do it.”

Max Verstappen: Title challenge comes under ‘different pressure’

But while Verstappen and Hamilton are now used to fighting for world titles, nine in total, for George Russell and Lando Norris it would be a new experience while Charles Leclerc got a small taste of it last season but has yet to mount a serious challenge.

Verstappen warned them that doing so brings with it a different kind of pressure.

“It’s also about when you have the car, then the pressure comes,” he continued. “You can’t afford mistakes, or at least you can’t afford big mistakes.

“It’s a little bit different the pressure you’re under, but I’m confident that once these guys have a role like that, anything will be possible. They all have the talent to do it.”

“Time will tell if Ferrari can challenge”

Last season Leclerc was Verstappen’s closest rival, the Ferrari man winning two of the first three races to move 34 points clear.

As the season progressed though, Ferrari fell behind while Verstappen and Red Bull rose to prominence.

Winning 15 Grands Prix, the Dutchman took the title with four races to spare, while Ferrari were left to analyze how a season that started so strongly fell apart.

Verstappen believes it’s “hard to tell” whether they’ll be in a fight this season.

“I have no idea how they are improving the car,” he explained. “I guess time will tell.

“I mean, they are a fantastic team. They also have a lot of great people working there.

“Of course there was a change, but in the end I think they had already defined the direction they wanted to work in and they wanted to improve the car and the engine department”.

“So I still expect them to continue on this path and they will definitely be strong opponents.”

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