Lewis Hamilton takes subtle dig at Max Verstappen as he names toughest competitor

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The 2021 Formula 1 season promises to be one of the most competitive we've seen in a long time.

Red Bull seem to have finally put a car together that can challenge the might of Mercedes and, with Max Verstappen at the wheel, boast a genuine title contender.

However, Lewis Hamilton has already shown this season that he won't lay idly by and allow Christian Horner and co. to topple the Mercedes dynasty.

In the opening race of the season in Bahrain, Hamilton fended off a relentless Verstappen to claim the top spot on the podium and potentially set the tone for the coming months.

Speaking ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend however, Hamilton highlighted that his toughest competitor on the grid is not the Red Bull flyer, but the wily old fox that is Sebastian Vettel.

"For me, with Seb, with Valtteri, you just want to be fighting the best drivers and be as close as possible and eek out more than your competitors to get the results," said the seven-time champion.

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"Max doesn't have the background that Seb has but he obviously has got the chance of being a future champion but whether that is now or later depends on the job that I do.

"I have positive feelings about the result in Bahrain and a good reflection on the weekend.

"It is clear that Red Bull have started off really well with a great package and Max is driving well, too, so it is set up for a good season.

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"We don't know what to expect with the different races coming up but it is going to be fun one way or the other.

"Nothing changes for us. We approach every weekend the same because if it aint broke don't fix it.

"We have had multiple battles with Ferrari, with Seb when he was there and we just have to keep our heads down.

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"We love the challenge. It is exciting for all of us that we have such a challenge on our hands and it is not one to shy away from."

You can't help but feel that Lewis is trying to get into the mind of Verstappen who is notoriously hot-headed sometimes.

With the Red Bull more equally matched to the Mercedes this year, it is no surprise that Hamilton is trying to find an edge wherever he can.

Either way, whether Lewis is battling it out with Seb or Max, 2021 should be an explosive year.

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