Max Verstappen explains why Lewis Hamilton rivalry will change in new F1 season

Max Verstappen commits future to Red Bull signing £200m deal

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F1 champion Max Verstappen has admitted he expects more teams to challenge himself and Lewis Hamilton for glory this year. The new season gets started in Bahrain on March 20. And the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers remain favourites when it comes to claiming the prize.

Verstappen edged out Hamilton when it came to winning the F1 title last year, reigning supreme after a chaotic race in Abu Dhabi.

And the two men are expected to jostle for the crown again this term, despite their rivals looking to close the gap.

Verstappen and Hamilton’s own rivalry has captivated the sport in recent years, however, with the Red Bull star now very much the man to beat.

Now, speaking to De Telegraaf, the 24-year-old has indicated he expects his rivalry with Hamilton to change due to the other teams and the improvements they’ve made to their respective vehicles.

“I think everyone was so eager to win the title that they pulled out all the stops. It was so terribly close,” he said.

“Normally one team has the upper hand a little more. Then it doesn’t have to be so hard and heated.

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“I don’t expect it to happen as often as last year.

“But it showed how important it is to have a good team.

“That makes me better too. I know I have a team that stands behind me completely.

“And they know that I always give 110 percent as soon as I jump in the car.”

Verstappen, when asked why he was so emotional after beating Hamilton in December, then opened up on his new deal.

The Dutchman will earn £40million annually with Red Bull after penning an extension that runs until 2028.

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And Verstappen said: “I didn’t know beforehand how I would react if it happened.

“It was more the very dramatic way it went after it looked like it wasn’t going to work for a long time.

“Everyone on the team was emotional. It meant so much to everyone. A very special moment.

“We’ve been working together for so long. And we will continue to do that for the time being, fortunately.”

Verstappen’s triumph has arguably been tainted due to the controversy that unfolded in the Middle East.

The Red Bull star overtook Hamilton on the final lap with a safety car allowing him to claim victory.

But Verstappen has insisted he ‘doesn’t care’ about the doubters, insisting his win was fully deserved.

“That could be. But if they know me well, they know I don’t care,” he said when quizzed on whether ‘certain parties’ were trying to belittle his achievement.

“It was a crazy and epic Formula 1 season at the end of the ride.

“The losing team will try to take the shine off it a bit. But on the winning side it still feels good, I can assure you.”

On the dismissal of Michael Masi, the FIA chief whose decision-making paved the way for Verstappen to reign supreme, the Red Bull star insisted it was ‘unfair’.

“Yes, I think that’s unfair,” he said.

“The FIA ​​has been pressured to make that decision.

“I think racing should always be the top priority and Michael had that mindset.

“Everyone needs help in this sport. It’s easy for me to talk, I have a whole team around me.

“Maybe they could have given Michael a little more assistance.”

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