Lewis Hamilton will remember ‘brutal’ Max Verstappen move in Imola says Nico Rosberg
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Former Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg believes the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will only intensify from here, especially after the Dutchman’s ‘brutal’ move in Imola, as the two title protagonists go head-to-head again this weekend in Portugal.
Verstappen stormed past his team-mate Sergio Perez from third in Italy for round two of the championship, challenging Hamilton for the lead at the opening corner – forcing the Mercedes driver to yield the position.
As a result of the move, Hamilton picked up some front wing damage, in a rain-affected Emilia Romagna GP – which saw Verstappen the eventual winner.
Rosberg, who was Hamilton’s team-mate between 2013-16, will have some fond – and some not so fond, memories from his own fights on track with the Briton.
And he believes it was a move Hamilton won’t forget in a hurry in a very long season.
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“There is already a battle on and off track between Hamilton and Verstappen,” Rosberg told Sky Sports Italia.
“On track, of course, we see it very well, they really fight wheel to wheel there. Verstappen pushed Hamilton aside very brutally during the race at Imola and that is a moment Lewis will remember throughout the season.
“He didn’t say anything on the radio but, believe me, Lewis saved that moment because it was a brutal action by Verstappen so that is also a sign for Hamilton to know that there is a tough battle going on.
“For the fans, of course, it is nice to see this fight.”
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With just a point separating Verstappen and Hamilton in the driver’s standings going into Portugal, Rosberg did admit he believes the Dutchman comes in as a firm favourite this season.
But added he must be clinical with his approach, and make no mistakes.
“Last year Verstappen only had a car he could occasionally win with, this year he is the favourite and that changes a lot,” Rosberg explained. “It gives 10 times more pressure. It has all changed because they have a good car now, you can’t make mistakes anymore.
“You also have to think long term and take points every time, because he is the absolute favourite. From that role, you now also get the battle with Hamilton both on and off the track and that is incredibly beautiful to follow.
“Because Max is the favourite now, every time Hamilton is ahead of him in the championship it means Max has done something wrong and the pressure is on him. You can also see how Hamilton mentally wants to push him into that role of favourite by saying Verstappen has the best car and Verstappen does vice versa.”
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