Max Verstappen refuses to say Lewis Hamilton’s name and fires shot at Mercedes star

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard

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Max Verstappen has suggested the Formula One championship fight would “have been decided long ago” if he was driving Lewis Hamilton’s car. The Red Bull driver goes into the final race of the campaign with a slight advantage after clinching pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton are tied on 369.5 points after 21 races, but the Dutchman has the upper hand thanks to a superior number of race wins this season.

Verstappen has amassed nine victories, compared to Hamilton’s marginally inferior eight wins.

The Briton knows he must finish higher than Verstappen to take the eighth crown and surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.

And Verstappen added extra heat to their fiery showdown, by claiming he would have already wrapped up his first F1 title if he was behind the wheel of Hamilton’s car.

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“You should think like that if you are a Formula One driver, so I say yes,” Verstappen said to De Telegraaf when asked about how he think he would fare in Hamilton’s car.

“But I don’t need to hear that from anyone else. I don’t need that recognition. I find it much more important what I think and what people who are close to me think.

“If I had been in his car, the season would have been decided long ago.”Verstappen also further emphasised the fact that his rivalry with Hamilton has surpassed mere sporting ambition, and become extremely personal.

“My look on certain people has changed. And not in a positive way,” Verstappen added. “I have found out that certain people show a whole different face when they come under pressure. Their true character comes to the surface.”

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Verstappen also believes this season has only gone down to the wire as a result of several decisions from the stewards going against him.

“If you look at certain decisions, I don’t feel that they are on my side,” the Dutchman added. At the last race in Saudi Arabia I am penalised and other drivers don’t even have to approach the stewards after a similar situation.

“Why is it suddenly different for me? With today’s knowledge, that blowout in Baku has been extremely painful.”

If both Hamilton and Verstappen retire from the race, then the Dutchman’s superior win record will be enough to clinch the world championship.

However, the 24-year-old has the grit between his teeth, insisting that he will instead do everything he can to beat Hamilton on the track

“I don’t want to knock him out, I want to beat him. That’s another wording,” he said sternly. Some people find me aggressive, others very aggressive and some people don’t. I think I am myself.

“The last races, I had to defend more because we are a bit slower. I don’t have the luxury of keeping a big lead or the being able to drive away from him.

“And yes, I do everything I can to win. If I don’t think like that, I’d better stay home.

“If I hadn’t had that attitude, we wouldn’t be here with an equal number of points. Then, he would already be champion.”

“I am not afraid of him. I do think that I make him nervous when he sees me in his mirrors. “He is a different driver than I am, he is less aggressive. He does not know how to race like I do.”

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