Jos Verstappen enjoyed watching son Max lap Lewis Hamilton amid Mercedes woes

Max Verstappen's father Jos has admitted he 'enjoyed' seeing the Red Bull ace lap rival Lewis Hamilton during his victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The pair were embroiled in a fierce battle for the title last season, which Verstappen won in a dramatic and controversial final race in Abu Dhabi, with the expectation similar events would be witnessed on the track again this term.

However, that's not proven to be the case as Mercedes have struggled to remain competitive following the latest regulation changes in Formula One and Hamilton has suffered the most, finishing outside the top 10 in Imola while teammate George Russell excelled and finished fourth.

Rubbing salt into Hamilton's wounds, the Brit also suffered the embarrassment of being lapped by Hamilton during the race and could only watch on as blue flags were waved, signalling a faster driver approaching, and the seven-time world champion had to let him through.

Verstappen himself played down the importance of the event following the race, referencing the continued struggles of Hamilton and his Mercedes team, but his father Jos Verstappen admitted they were scenes he enjoyed watching.

“Honestly, I did enjoy seeing Max lap Hamilton after everything that happened last year. Hamilton really had a tough time, whereas his team-mate George Russell seemed to be more balanced. It’s not often you have the opportunity to lap a Mercedes," he wrote in a column.

The former driver also hailed the overall performance from Verstappen, who secured front spot on the grid with a late overtake of Charles Leclerc in Saturday's Sprint and then eased to victory in the race as Ferrari couldn't close the gap.

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"Max had an excellent weekend in Imola. I found him incredibly strong. He didn’t make a single mistake, was solid and completely in control. Red Bull clearly made a step in the right direction. Of course, we knew the car would get an upgrade in Italy, but with the weather conditions it was hard to make a comparison. But we can definitely conclude that we’ve become stronger.

"Saturday during the sprint race, we saw the first glimpses of this. Max caught up with Charles. It meant Ferrari had to push harder, forcing them to use the tires more. In Italy, Max and Red Bull put Ferrari under pressure, and when under pressure, it’s easy to make a mistake. If you are effortlessly leading, that chance is a lot smaller. It turned out to be a perfect weekend for Max."

Verstappen has closed the gap on leader Leclerc to 27 points following his triumphant weekend, while Ferrari's lead over Red Bull in the Constructor's Championship now stands at just 11 points.

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