Verstappen Forced “Desperate” Lewis Hamilton Into Imola F1 Mistake: Palmer

Published 04/21/2021, 9:33 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


The 2021 F1 season is delivering on the thing it promised – a fierce Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton battle. It is the old master vs the young challenger battle that we were unfortunately denied when Ayrton Senna fatally crashed at the beginning of the 1994 season. And the youngster’s pressure is forcing the master to make mistakes.

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While Lewis Hamilton had his noses ahead in Bahrain, Verstappen got the better of him in Imola. Not only did he win the on-track battle, but he also affected Hamilton’s mindset.

During Lap 31, the Mercedes driver spun into the gravel. And then rammed into the barriers at Tosa as he was trying to maneuver his way out quickly.

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But what caused his spin in the first place?

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton during the press conference with second-placed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen FIA/Handout via REUTERS

The reason was that he was trying to lap George Russell by overtaking on the wetter part of the track. Mind you, he was on slick compounds and he knew that he was going to lose his grip.

“(Hamilton) deemed it worth taking the risk in order to apply pressure on the race leader – his championship rival,” said Former F1 driver and current analyst, Jolyon Palmer.

The Briton was trying to gain an advantage on Max, who was taking a more cautious dry line. Verstappen never left the racing line to lap the string of cars that Hamilton was also approaching (Russell, Stroll and Bottas) – and it cost him a chunk of lap time to the Mercedes behind. He was cautious.”

“Hamilton undoubtedly saw the race leader getting closer and closer ahead and was desperate to keep the pressure on, and in doing so took a risk, which didn’t pay off.”

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Lewis Hamilton has been running through the field in this turbo-hybrid era like a tractor. Ever since Rosberg retired, no one has been able to challenge him. But now Verstappen is threatening to take his crown; and forcing him into uncomfortable positions, according to Palmer.

“At Imola we saw Hamilton take risks he hasn’t had to do for years, because of the competition he is up against this season. If Lewis was leading the race, or even chasing Bottas or Vettel in a Ferrari, I don’t think we’d be seeing him take the risks that he did on Sunday, but he knows the Verstappen threat in 2021 will probably be his toughest yet as a Mercedes driver.”

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 16, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

With 21 rounds to go, this battle will be a marathon, not a sprint.

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Bharat Aggarwal

667 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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