Max Verstappen warned against ‘intimidating’ Lewis Hamilton as fierce rivalry goes on

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Max Verstappen’s strategy of forcing Lewis Hamilton wide in the Brazilian Grand Prix drew a lot of media reaction. Some argued it was dangerous, whilst others claimed it was a warning shot to Hamilton to annoy him. However, driving to irritate will not work on the Brit, according to two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen.

Hakkinen, nicknamed “The Flying Finn” due to his nationality, won the World Drivers championship in 1998 and 1999 for McLaren.

He is the only ever Finnish driver to win the title twice, although he announced his break from racing just two years after his second title before confirming his retirement a year later.

Having won the biggest accolade there is in Formula One, Hakkinen is well-placed to know about title mentalities.

But he claims that the way Verstappen is going about his business is completely wrong if he is to win the title.

“Max is at the top of his career, leading the World Championship and determined to keep Lewis behind,” Hakkinen told Unibet.

“What happened at Turn 4 was an example of how hard Max is prepared to push. Keeping the steering wheel open is an easy way to intimidate a rival, but it can also lead to a collision.

“In that case, you never know what might happen.

“I am not sure that intimidating Lewis will work. He likes a challenge. It gives him extra focus!”

Verstappen leads Hamilton by 14 points going into the final three races of the calendar, which continues on Sunday in Qatar.

The gap could have been much bigger had the Red Bull star finished ahead of Hamilton in last Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

But Mercedes’ main man miraculously came from tenth to beat Verstappen in Sao Paulo.

The duo have won a combined 15 of 19 races in the current season.

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Hamilton is looking to beat the joint-record of seven World Championships he shares with Michael Schumacher, whilst Verstappen looks to claim his first ever at the age of just 24.

It would represent an eighth straight Constructors’ Championship win for Mercedes, who took the crown from Red Bull in 2014 when Nico Rosberg won the title.

With Sunday’s race set to be the first ever in Qatar, it is unsure how the drivers will fare in their battle to win the Drivers’ Championship.

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