Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battle set to flare up in Portugal, says F1 ace’s father

F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?

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The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will heat up again this weekend, with one race win apiece on the scoreboard heading into Portugal for round three of the Formula 1 world championship.

Verstappen trails Hamilton by a single point, with both drivers hungry to achieve their own personal goals this season.

Hamilton, 36, is looking to become the most successful F1 driver in the history of the sport, while the 23-year-old, who is still early in his F1 career, is vying for his first world title in the sport.

Bahrain started with fireworks in the desert, as the Red Bull outpaced Mercedes during testing.

But, despite Verstappen being fastest across the entire weekend, it was advantage Hamilton on the Sunday as he held off Verstappen for the race win.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull backed to pip Lewis Hamilton to F1 glory

Did this mean Mercedes still held the upper hand over Red Bull? Round 2 emphatically answered that question.

The second round of the championship in Imola cemented the thought that had so delicately been planted in our minds just weeks before – Verstappen was a force to be reckoned with.

Verstappen was close to flawless during the rain-affected race, with rare mistakes from Hamilton, and no points at all for his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was involved in a high-speed shunt with George Russell.

And the Dutchman’s father Jos, a former F1 driver in his own right, was in agreement.

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Of the rivalry, Verstappen Snr told Ziggo Sport, “We don’t know how it will go, but if I look at the shoulder nudge they gave each other after qualifying at Imola, I think we can expect something this year.

“They are both men who do not want to be inferior to each other. Neither of them will let the other push them aside, especially if it will be more and more about the title.

“I think it’s going to be an intense and beautiful year.”

Feathers were ruffled in the Mercedes camp this week, as a key figure for the team jumped ship and joined Red Bull.

Red Bull made the statement last Friday announcing that Ben Hodgkinson would be joining as technical director for their new engine programme, taking his 20 years of experience with Mercedes’ Powertrains division to their nearest rivals.

“I knew that was going to happen,” said Verstappen Snr.

“I hear things like that from the team. He [Hodgkinson] appears to be an incredibly good engineer with a lot of knowledge of the Mercedes engine. So that’s great.

“As long as we can compete for the world championship, I think it’s fine.”

Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has spoken out about their new arrival, claiming others at Mercedes have also shown interest in a move.

“The decisive thing is, we didn’t have to persuade him at all,” Marko told F1 Insider.

“Ben applied independently through our advertisement.

“Mercedes is now trying everything they legally can do to delay the start of his work. But it won’t take as long as Mercedes would like.

“He is not the only one who wants to join us. There are also other high-profile figures, whose names I cannot yet give.

“I know only one thing: If Niki Lauda were still alive, we would not have been able to do this.”

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