Former Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes a crash involving Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is inevitable.
A clean fight in the opening race in Bahrain saw Hamilton come out on top, but the title rivals banged wheels at the first chicane in Imola.
The young Dutchman got the better of Hamilton on this occasion and although Hamilton put on an impressive show initially, beaching his car past the halfway stage of the race meant Verstappen notched a convincing win.
Owing to the fact that Hamilton set the fastest lap time in Imola, he is currently a point ahead of Verstappen despite identical standings across the two races.
However, this is going to be a longer than usual Formula 1 season with 21 more races scheduled. Former F1 driver Palmer expects a rivalry to develop between the two in the same mould as what Hamilton faced with Nico Rosberg.
While he didn’t say that it could end up getting nasty, was was the case with Hamilton and Rosberg, Palmer said he didn’t expect either of the 2 to yield given the lure of the world championship.
“This race [Imola] if anything has absolutely shown us who will be fighting for the championship this year, and when you’re fighting with your rival you can take more risks because if you get it wrong you’re probably going to take both out,” said Palmer during the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.
“If you’re fighting your championship rival you can get your elbows out a bit more, be more argy-bargy. It showed the aggression I’m looking forward to seeing over the next 21 races.
“I think Lewis knows this is the title battle of his career. He had them in 2007 and 2008…but okay, the title battle of the decade.
“He’s not had a challenger as good as Verstappen, maybe since Fernando Alonso in the same team, but that was when he was a rookie. This is a challenger more fierce than Felipe Massa ever was in 2008.
“We harp back to the Rosberg days but they would rather crash with each other than finish behind each other. It’s the same now. That’s the fierce rivalry that’s already been born for this season.
“Hamilton took a risk at the start of the race because he would rather neither of them finished the race, probably, than finish second behind Verstappen.
“That was the thing with Rosberg and Hamilton – better to take chances in 50-50 moments and put your car in the position where you might have a crash if he turns in.
“You might risk a bit of contact here or there. When it’s your rival, you’ve got to do it and I think we’re going to see a crash between them at some point and I don’t know how we didn’t at Imola.”
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