Hamilton has ‘done well’ to avoid contact with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has suggested he’s done well to avoid making contact with his Formula 1 world championship rival, Max Verstappen.

The pair are split by 14 points after the opening four races of the year, Hamilton having claimed victory in three of them.

At the opening race of the year, the duo were engaged in a late-race squabble that was resolved in favour of the Mercedes driver after Verstappen exceeded track limits when passing for the lead.

The opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw the pair tussle heading into the Tosa Chicane, with Hamilton coming off worse for the encounter.

They also found themselves together on track in Portugal where Hamilton elbowed his way through at Turn 2 having earlier been caught out at a Safety Car restart.

Last weekend, the pair were again locked in battle on three separate occasions, with Mercedes using strategy to blind side Red Bull and steal victory.

“I think I’ve done well, to avoid all the incidents so far,” Hamilton said in response to his battles with Verstappen in 2021.

“We’ve got 19 more to go and we could connect. Hopefully not.

“I think the good thing is there is a nice balanced amount of respect, I think between us.

“I think perhaps he feels he has a lot to prove, I’m not necessarily in the same boat there.

“I’m more long term, kind of [like] ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ sort of mentality, which is ultimately why I have the stats that I have.

“So I’ll continue with that and do everything to make sure that we avoid connecting.”

In Spain last time out, Hamilton became the first driver in Formula 1 world championship history to claim 100 pole positions.

He stands on 98 wins heading into a race he’s won twice previously – including the last time F1 visited Monaco in 2019.

It’s a venue Hamilton has been critical of, suggesting it’s in need of modernisation to accommodate modern motorsport.

The narrow circuit makes overtaking nigh on impossible, making Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session arguably the most important of the weekend.

“Red Bull are going to be very, very hard to beat this weekend,” he suggested.

“This is a track that really has always been strong for them, and given how close the gap is between us, you can imagine this weekend they could be ahead.

“But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that’s not the case.”

Free Practice 1 for the Monaco Grand Prix begins on Thursday at 19:30 AEST.

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