We are getting used to this tough battle that the Mercedes and Red Bull teams are having. Three races have already taken place, of which two have been won by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and one by young Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. So far in the 2021 season, this is the year the Austrians have come closest to defeating the Germans. In addition, the fight is not only on race day, but since Saturday and in the qualifying session, Max Verstappen has also managed to defeat both Mercedes drivers to take the pole position of the last Bahrain Grand Prix. We know Lewis is a very tough opponent to beat, his skills behind the wheel are indisputable, but Max has been improving kilometre after kilometre and even though his RB16B is not as fast as the Mercedes, the Dutch driver has been pushing and more regularly rushing the reigning champion. To deepen this, Ross Brawn, who serves as one of the greatest leaders of the highest category of motorsport, has given his point of view and alerts how it is that the mentality of Max Verstappen has been changing over time.
“Hamilton will have to be at his best all season to keep Verstappen from stealing his championship crown.” Brawn affirmed while writing his weekly column in F1’s official website. “Lewis may have faced major opposition from his team mate over the last few years, but he’s not had to contend with a threat from outside – and so far, he is responding like a seven-time world champion would.”
We know that Mercedes has conquered the hybrid era of Formula 1, that is, from 2014 to the 2020 season, the German manufacturer has won absolutely all the drivers' and constructors' world championships, the drivers' with Lewis Hamilton. However, there was a year -2016- in which his teammate was superior than him and Nico Rosberg managed to be crowned champion. This was the last time he lost a drivers' championship.
“Verstappen’s mindset has changed. It’s clear that Max is approaching this championship in a different way because he finally has a title-winning car. His mindset has changed and he’s got an eye on the whole championship.” Brawn commented. “And it had to change since when you’re a title contender, the focus has to be on consolidating when you’re not the fastest and when opportunities such as a mechanical issue for a rival or a Safety Car present themselves, you must be in a position to strike.”
“If Lewis had had an issue or Mercedes made a mistake in Portugal, Max was in a position to react, so while it was frustrating for him today, he can see Red Bull are responding and he accepts that there will be an ebb and flow to this championship.”
The next two grand prix will be of utmost importance for both drivers and teams. First of all, we have the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix. We know that this circuit is usually very different from what the drivers can expect, this in terms of asphalt conditions, as well as the type of layout. On the other hand, Monaco is a track in which the power unit does not have as much importance, but the skill of the driver and the aerodynamic design of the car, therefore, both Lewis and Max have a very high probability of winning or having a very close fight both in the race and in qualifying.
“We’ve had three races on three different tracks and on each, there has been a proper fight between Max and Lewis, which bodes very well for a fascinating title battle this year.”
As Ross Brawn points out, this season promises to have large amounts of battles for victories and points that, in the end, could be key to define the world champion. As we already mentioned, the next race will be held in Spain from May 7th to 9th of this year, that is, this very weekend. Who will win? Can Max Verstappen achieve what he couldn't in Portugal? All the relevant news of this event and of the category can be found right here, on MotorLat.