Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Lewis Hamilton claims to relish his rivalry with Max Verstappen, who drives for rivals Red Bull, more than he did during his famous duel with Nico Rosberg while they were team-mates at Mercedes. The seven-time world champion has got it all to do if he is to close the gap on the Dutchman this season and claim a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship.
Rosberg and Hamilton were team-mates between 2013 and 2016, claiming 54 of the 78 available race wins between them as the pair dominated the sport.
Their fierce competitiveness led to a number of clashes on and off the track during a period where tensions ran high.
Rosberg finally won the world title in 2016, after which he retired from F1, and is the only man other than Hamilton to be world champion in the past seven years.
Hamilton told the Formula One YouTube channel: “[The rivalry] is much more enjoyable. I think when you’re having an internal battle, because this sport is it’s different to other sports, right?
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“If you look at football, everyone’s working towards the same goal.
“This sports kind of confused because you have to drive two championships, you have a team championship, where the two drivers are hired to score points for the team to win the championship, that’s the priority.
“And then individually, you have the two drivers that selfishly want to win the championship. So you’ve got this battle of tension.
“When you’re working against the guy opposite you, it’s much different to working with that person and fighting another team.
“I feel that that makes better racing. That makes the championship more exciting when it’s a team against team rather than internal.”
The race for the throne has certainly been exciting so far this year, with Verstappen carrying a 32-point lead heading into the British Grand Prix this weekend.
Red Bull are on a roll, winning each of the last five races with the Dutchman topping the podium on four of those occasions.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff still believes that Hamilton can power through to claim a record-breaking eighth world title, although he acknowledges that it is now ‘against the odds’.
Hamilton said: “Those guys are a little bit ahead at the moment. And so we’ve got a massive challenge to try and just make sure we capitalise on any of their weak moments if they ever have any.
“And really just trying to extract the best of each and every single one of us in the team.”
Still, if it does not happen for the Brit this year, he recently signed an £80million contract with the Silver Arrows until 2023, so it will not be his last attempt to cement his legacy at the very top of the sport.
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