Hamilton hopes Verstappen will have a ‘bit of compassion’ in 2022 battle

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were involved in a gargantuan battle for the world championship in 2021.

Sir Lewis Hamilton maintains that there are no hard feelings between him and Max Verstappen going into the 2022 season following their dramatic 2021 title fight.

The pair went head-to-head last year and claimed 18 of the 22 race wins between them, but frequent incidents and occasional dramatic collisions made a for a heated championship battle, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner affirming that there was “no relationship” between themselves and Mercedes.

Ultimately, the title was settled on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when a controversial Safety Car restart from now former race director Michael Masi led to the Dutchman’s last gasp heroics.

The 37-year-old was quick to congratulate his rival immediately after the race, and insists that there is no bad blood between Formula 1’s leading two.

“For me and Max, we’re seeing each other in the paddock, things are normal,” he told Sky Sports.

“We are two individual drivers who have a lot of common in the sense of how much we love doing what we do: driving.

“On the other side, we’re ruthless. He is ruthless, that’s how you have to be, I would imagine in business but hopefully with a bit of compassion.

“But we are fighters out there, there’s no friends on track.

“Some days we get it right, some days we get it wrong, but what’s important is when we get back out, we are human beings and we do keep respect.”

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F1 journalist Will Buxton recently tweeted that the 37-year-old told him Ferrari would get a 1-2 if the season were to start tomorrow following a couple of obstacles for Mercedes during testing, and the Briton once again confirmed his belief that the Silver Arrows are behind.

“Next week we will get a much better showing of our pace,” he explained.

“I’m sure everyone can figure that out – we are not the quickest at the moment. Ferrari look to be the quickest, then perhaps Red Bull, and then maybe us or maybe McLaren, I don’t know. But we’re currently not at the top.”

They appeared to be one of the teams facing issues with handling under the brand-new technical regulations, but Carlos Sainz and Verstappen have recently suggested that Mercedes’ perceived lack of optimism is a commonly deployed tactic.

Hamilton emphasised that this year, with ground effect-led technical regulations providing unprecedented challenges, that this year is different.

“I think people will be surprised maybe. Or at least people keep talking about us talking ourselves down. But it’s a bit different this year,” he added.

Whether this is another case of Mercedes deliberately deprecating their performance as a tactic remains to be seen, but we do not have to wait long to find out as the new season kicks off this weekend in Bahrain.