Hamilton vs Verstappen: Gloves could be off in most exciting looking F1 title fight for years

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Whisper it quietly, but we could actually have a title fight on our hands this season in Formula 1.

Of course, it’s been suggested before in recent years – perhaps more out of hope than expectation –that someone would take the fight to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in particular, but that’s never come to pass, with the Briton rather unchallenged in his recent surge to seven world titles.

Indeed, Ferrari had offered somewhat of an obstacle with Sebastian Vettel, but fell away and, put simply, made mistakes both team and driver-wise when the opportunity to pounce was there.

However, on the back of a testing period and qualifying in Bahrain that saw Red Bull looking very strong and Mercedes – by their high standards – looking fragile, talk is now rife we’re going to finally get a Max Verstappen v Lewis Hamilton title fight.

The two are seen by many as the best on the grid this year – Fernando Alonso might disagree, but his Alpine car won’t be fast enough to prove it – and though teammates Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez will want in on a title fight, it does seem as though the British champion and the flying Dutchman will go toe-to-toe this season.

Slight regulation changes in terms of aerodynamics for 2021 have worked in Red Bull’s favour. The car looks incredibly stable and also very quick. Honda have a new power unit – their last before they bow out at the end of this season – and they’ll be eager to end on a high.

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Mercedes, meanwhile, have stability issues at the rear of their car with Hamilton suffering more than one spin in Sakhir earlier this month, but the pace still remains - Bottas showed that with some decent enough lap times.

Evidently, you cannot read too much into testing and there’d be no surprise if Mercedes won this weekend to silence the doubters, but, what does seem likely, is the two teams are closer than ever before at the beginning of a season.

With Hamilton looking for an eighth title and Verstappen now a top all-round driver hungry for his first, we could be on the brink of a titanic title fight. Bring it on!

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