Lewis Hamilton expects tougher fight for Max Verstappen title as F1 resumes | Formula One

Lewis Hamilton expects the challenge from world championship rival Max Verstappen and Red Bull to be even stronger as they enter Formula 1 into the second half of the season. Ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton acknowledged that the most fiercely competitive campaign since 2016 was one of his toughest battles in Formula One.

Hamilton returns from F1 summer break after withdrawing from A noticeable shift in Hungary. Dropping to last when Mercedes missed the restart, he recovered to finish third, and was promoted to second when Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin was later disqualified for failing to provide a fuel sample.

Verstappen sustained damage to his car after being hit by Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, on the opening lap and finished 10th, although he was later upgraded to 9th. In the previous round at Silverstone, Hamilton cut Verstappen causing her to crash and he scored no points. Ahead of the British Grand Prix, Hamilton trailed Verstappen by 33 points but entered this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps by eight points.

This was a head-turner, with Verstappen winning four of the five races ahead of the British Grand Prix. Hamilton was convinced he and Red Bull He will come back strong.

“It will be close, it will be difficult in the second half of the season,” he said. “The first half was one of the hardest. I expect it to be pretty much the same, if not more difficult.

We’ve seen its speed and competitiveness in the past. Of course, as we went through the season they got stronger and stronger. It was more difficult for us as we continued, we had a tough patch but we are back in terms of business as we were in the past to a good place.”

Verstappen was keen to rule out bad fortune in the previous two rounds. “We are very positive,” he said. “We had a lot of good races, the last two just didn’t go our way, out of our control. The team is looking forward to starting over.”

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton became tired and dizzy, and fear He may be suffering from a long Covid illness. He contracted the virus in December last year and missed the Sakhir race. He recovered but revealed in Budapest that he has been struggling to return to full fitness all season.

“I’ve been fighting all year for my health after what happened at the end of last year and it’s still a battle,” he said.

The 36-year-old declined to reveal whether he had been infected with Covid for a long time but was confident of his health after the summer break. “It’s totally personal information, of course. I’ve been spending some time during this period trying to make sure I’m in top shape and feel like I’m going into the second half of the season and that’s not a concern for me.”

It has not been revealed who will drive alongside Hamilton next season at Mercedes with both candidates, George Russell of Bottas and Williams, indicating that they have no news to share about the team’s decision and are unlikely to do so until Monza at the earliest.

Fernando Alonso confirmed at Spa that he will race in Formula 1 for another season with the Alpine team. The two-time world champion returned to the sport this year after a two-year absence and extended his contract for another season in 2022. Alonso turned 40 last month, the 11th in the championship.

Alpine scored their first win at the last round in Hungary as Esteban Ocon carried the flag and hope they can challenge under the new regulations next season.

“I have been a huge supporter of the need for equal opportunity and change in the sport and the 2022 season will be a great opportunity for that,” said Alonso. “I’m looking forward to the rest of this year racing alongside Esteban in 2022 for Alpine.”

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