“It is a sign for Hamilton”: Rosberg says the Lewis-Max battle has started both on-and-off the track

Nico Rosberg thinks that the fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will reach new heights, especially after Verstappen’s aggressive start in Imola.

After starting third from the grid, Verstappen stormed into the lead pushing Hamilton off the road through the opening corner. The Mercedes driver ended up with a bit of damage to his car in the process.

Rosberg, who was Hamilton’s teammate from 2013 and 2016, claims that the Brit has probably stored away that moment with him, even if he does not publicly talk about it.

“There is already a battle on-and-off the track between Hamilton and Verstappen,” Rosberg told Sky Sports Italia.

“On track, of course, we see it very well, they really fight wheel to wheel there. Verstappen pushed Hamilton aside very brutally during the race at Imola and that is a moment Lewis will remember throughout the season.

“He didn’t say anything on the radio but, believe me, Lewis saved that moment because it was a brutal action by Verstappen so that is also a sign for Hamilton to know that there is a tough battle going on.

“For the fans, of course, it is nice to see this fight.”

Rosberg also seems to think that Verstappen is favorite for title this season.

“Last year Verstappen only had a car he could occasionally win with, this year he is the favourite and that changes a lot,” Rosberg added. “It gives 10 times more pressure. It has all changed because they have a good car now, you can’t make mistakes anymore.

“You also have to think long term and take points every time, because he is the absolute favourite. From that role, you now also get the battle with Hamilton both on and off the track and that is incredibly beautiful to follow.

“Because Max is the favourite now, every time Hamilton is ahead of him in the championship it means Max has done something wrong and the pressure is on him. You can also see how Hamilton mentally wants to push him into that role of favourite by saying Verstappen has the best car and Verstappen does vice versa.”

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