Hamilton believes rivalries are good for F1

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes the on-track battles between he and Max Verstappen is good for Formula 1 despite the negative headlines that have tended to follow.

The pair are locked in a tense battle for the drivers’ championship, with the Dutchman the most recent challenger to the seven-time champion’s mantle.

Already this season there have been a number of on-track skirmishes, the most notable being that at the British Grand Prix which left Verstappen in hospital.

In a sign of how intense the championship battle has become, team bosses Christian Horner (Red Bull) and Toto Wolff (Mercedes) have both looked to use the media to unsettle their respective rivals.

That has seen things, at points, deteriorate into barely concealed name-calling, while in Hungary Verstappen lost his composure when asked about the Silverstone accident.

“I remember when I first started watching, and particularly rewatching footage of the Senna/Prost period,” Hamilton recalled when asked about his emerging rivalry with Verstappen.

“At the time, it was just exciting. I had no idea whether that was good or bad for the sport.

“Just like growing up racing, wheel-to-wheel racing was always the best through karting.

“If you look, the most exciting times in motorsport when you see wheel-to-wheel racing, so we’re now seeing fortunately two teams incredibly close in performance.

“I don’t like to compare it to past drivers, or past champions, it’s a new era, a new time, but I would imagine it’s not bad for the sport,” he added.

“I think we are trying to continuously improve the sport and how we engage with the fans and provide them with the most exciting races.

“The fans that are watching, I guess if there’s more people watching that tells you everything.”

Eight points split Hamilton from Verstappen, the Dutchman having scored just five points from the last two race weekends – and three of those coming from Sprint Qualifying in Silverstone.

Formula 1 is next in action at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix on August 27-29.

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