Will Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ‘hate each other’ at Imola?

Lewis Hamilton led a few laps of the recent Australian Grand Prix, before he was overtaken by Max Verstappen.

With Mercedes set to introduce a new concept at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in a bid to close the gap to Red Bull, could the Formula 1 world see Lewis Hamilton against Max Verstappen once again?

Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s rivalry has largely been put on hold since the start of the new aerodynamic regulations last season, with Mercedes having failed to design a dominant car.

Red Bull and Verstappen have been sensational since the start of 2022, with 2023 looking set to be the Dutchman’s third consecutive year of winning the Drivers’ Championship.

Mercedes will be hoping to have a say in the title fight, though, as long as their new concept delivers.

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As things stand, Mercedes can’t compete with Red Bull; however, this could change in Imola.

A revival of Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s rivalry would certainly add an exciting element to 2023, with it now being 16 months since their enthralling 2021 duel came to an end.

The 2021 season was sensational, unbelievable, and incredibly controversial, due to what happened at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

2021 was really the first time they had a proper fight which resulted in drama, with their previous fights having been fair.

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Their rivalry, of course, rose several levels following their collision at the 2021 British Grand Prix, where Verstappen was sent into the barrier at an incredible speed.

Whilst Hamilton was slapped with a 10-second stop/go penalty for the collision, he was able to fight through the field to claimed victory, which he celebrated in memorable fashion.

His celebration did not go down well with Verstappen, who was in the hospital at the time.

Verstappen made it very clear that he found Mercedes’ celebrations “really disrespectful”, with that having been a defining moment in their title fight.

“Just the whole reaction of the [Mercedes] team, besides that. That’s not how you celebrate a win, especially a win how they got it. That’s what I found really disrespectful,” Verstappen said after the race.

The pair collided again at the Italian Grand Prix that year at Turn Two, with Verstappen’s car having been launched onto the top of Hamilton’s.

Hamilton’s helmet and the halo device saved him from being crushed by Verstappen’s rear wheel, with both having somehow walked away unharmed.

Hamilton wasn’t happy with Verstappen’s response to the crash in Monza, with the Dutchman having walked behind the seven-time World Champion’s Mercedes whilst he was still inside it, rather than check if he was OK.

“I did see Max get out and just walk by. I felt that a little bit surprising because ultimately I think when we do have incidents the first thing we want to make sure is the guy that we crashed into, we collide with, is okay,” Hamilton said.

Obviously, their duel came to a “manipulated” end at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where former race director Michael Masi made multiple ‘human errors’, which saw Verstappen claim a maiden title.

Given that rules were broken during the race by Masi, many have labelled Verstappen’s 2021 crown as ‘tarnished’; however, he doesn’t believe this is true at all.

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“Not at all. I had a very good season and I think I really deserved it,” Verstappen stated.

Verstappen even admitted that himself and Hamilton “did hate each other” during the season, but that it was due to “competitive spirit”.

“Sometimes we did hate each other, but that’s fine. That’s the competitive spirit of both of us. He is an incredible driver,” added Verstappen.