Lewis Hamilton: Will Mercedes driver be at his ‘best’ in F1 2022 as Max Verstappen rivalry renews?

 

With the new season fast approaching, relive some of the most intense tussles on track between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen last year
Lewis Hamilton will be more motivated than ever to bounce back from his 2021 title heartbreak and make history this season, the return of that intense Max Verstappen rivalry.

 

Two and a half months on from the hugely controversial finish to Hamilton and Verstappen’s championship battle that saw the Dutchman emerge victorious with a last-lap overtake, Formula 1 2022 is preparing for lift-off with the final pre-season test this week before the first race on March 20.

Hamilton, while still furious about how an epic season finished, has vowed that Abu Dhabi will not define his career while also sending an ominous warning to his rivals with the message: “If you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait until you see this year.”

 

FORMULA ONE RACES SUN 20, 15:00
WINNER (Not All)
Bahrain Grand Prix
LEWIS HAMILTON
7/4
MAX VERSTAPPEN
3/1
CHARLES LECLERC
11/2
GEORGE RUSSELL
6/1
CARLOS SAINZ
10/1
SERGIO PEREZ
20/1
LANDO NORRIS
20/1
DANIEL RICCIARDO
33/1
FERNANDO ALONSO

“When Lewis Hamilton comes out with a sentence like that, you have to take notice,” says Anthony Davidson.

“He sure is fired up to win this thing once and for all and I think he’ll be hard to beat. He’s certainly coming into this season with a very bullish mentality.”

 

With all-new cars for 2022, it is not yet clear what the pecking order will be or indeed whether Mercedes and Red Bull will be as closely-matched at the front as last year.

But Davidson adds: “There will be nothing more than Lewis wants from this season than to destroy Max Verstappen.

“Let’s not beat around a bush, he feels absolutely robbed as to what happened last year in Abu Dhabi, he wants to come out with a dominant car and he doesn’t even want to see Max on track, I’m sure.

 

“He just wants to show him a clean pair of heels, disappear off into the distance and win his eighth world championship.”

Karun Chandhok continued on Hamilton: “One of two things was going to happen [after Abu Dhabi], either Lewis was going to get disillusioned with the sport, or you’ll pull the tail on the tiger. I suspect we’ve got the latter.”

Verstappen and Russell hot on Hamilton’s heels
The final three-day pre-season test – starting this Thursday live on Sky Sports F1 – should provide a clearer picture of which team has stolen a march to begin the new 2022 era. But once the lights go out for the first time in Bahrain on March 20, there can be no doubt that the Hamilton vs Verstappen rivalry will renew.

 

1996 world champion Damon Hill has tipped Hamilton to come out on top this season, stating: “I think Lewis knows what he’s dealing with with Max.

“I think Max has shown he’s a hardcore, uncompromising driver and competitor, and Lewis showed last year he’s willing to show the hard side to him, too.”

Verstappen won’t be the only young determined star Hamilton has to contend with this year, for he has a new team-mate in George Russell at Mercedes, the Briton having shone over three years at Williams.

 

“George is absolutely superb in qualifying, there’s no doubt he’ll pull laps out and surprise Lewis,” says Paul Di Resta.

“But I think people underestimate Lewis and how relentless he is in the race. He’s an absolute animal when it comes to what he can get out of the car.

“It also depends what Lewis’ mindset is. He seems in good spirits and I think he’s still definitely at his prime and I think he will want to prove a point, more than anything, that he can win this eighth world title.”

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