The duel between Max Verstappen is Lewis Hamilton, which is taking center stage in this start of 2021, has recalled the memory of many fans the first half of the 2018 season. That remains the last occasion in which Mercedes and the British champion had a real confrontation for the title with another team . At the time, the Englishman managed to lengthen decisively from mid-championship onwards, especially thanks to Vettel’s retirement at Hockenheim. A first turning point in the championship, however, was represented by French GP, played on the Paul Ricard circuit, which at the time was back on the calendar for the first time in 19 years.
Berger on Hamilton: “Verstappen as an easier rival than Rosberg”
The French race is exactly what Hamilton and Verstappen will face this weekend. Even three years ago the Englishman showed up on the track across the Alps from second in the world ranking, in that case one point behind Vettel. That day, however, the Mercedes’ English was perfect, leading the race practically from the first to the last lap. Not so the then Ferrari driver. Vettel in fact, started from the third spot on the grid, missed the braking of Curva-1, ramming the innocent Valtteri Bottas. This forced the German to restart from the last position, after entering the Safety Car. At the end of the day the four-time world champion was fifth, thus slipping to -14 from Hamilton in the standings.
Hamilton: “Red Bull clearly faster”
A precedent which certainly bodes well the seven-time world champion, who already in Baku was not able to take advantage of the unfortunate retirement of Max Verstappen, in turn finishing the GP out of the points zone. Curiously, the Dutchman of Red Bull closed that 2018 race in second place, benefiting from the Vettel-Bottas accident.