Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen: Mika Hakkinen sends championship warning to Red Bull ace

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Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen has warned Max Verstappen that the title race this year in Formula 1 is far from over yet and that anything could still happen to turn things back towards Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman leads the way in the Drivers' standings with just four races to go now this season.

He's 19 points clear after winning the Mexico Grand Prix at a canter and many fancy him to produce another victory this weekend at the Brazilian Grand Prix with the Sao Paulo circuit often suiting the Red Bull car in recent years.

Hakkinen, though, as a double world champion that won both of his titles in the final races of the year in 1998 and 1999, knows all too well that things can still go to the wire and twists and turns can happen right up until that moment, with him warning Verstappen that there's still a long way to go:

“There is no doubt that Max’s victory has given him a strong lead in the World Championship with only four races remaining,” Hakkinen wrote in his Unibet column.

“But in my opinion a lot can still happen in this battle between Red Bull and Mercedes.

“While the next Grand Prix in Brazil should again suit Max’s car, Lewis Hamilton won at Interlagos in 2016 and 2018.

“We then head to two new circuits in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which means neither team has any data from previous events on which to rely.

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“They will of course use simulation technology to predict performance, but you never really know how a car and tyres will work until you start running. Freshly surfaced, new tracks can be oily, dusty and definitely tricky.

“Red Bull have shown a small but important pace advantage, however I am certain that next four races will produce surprises.

“This is when the psychology of the driver and his team will become important. When everything is going well it can start to feel easy, but it’s when something goes wrong that championship-winners show just how good they are.”

“Every point counts, and so too does every technical issue or accident,” he said.

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“You have to keep your focus, and keep working hard with everyone in the team to make sure nothing is taken for granted. If you relax, the other guy is always waiting to take an opportunity.

“In my experience, therefore, it’s never over until the chequered flag falls on the last race.

“I feel sure this World Championship can go all the way to Abu Dhabi.

“Mercedes will do everything they can to make that happen, and no one should discount Lewis’ ability to give Max plenty to think about during these final races. He likes a challenge, and that’s what Max is to Lewis.”

Verstappen himself won't be getting complacent, of course, with him cutting a professional, focused figure for much of the title battle so far.

He's closing in on the ultimate dream, but there's still plenty of drama ahead to try and navigate.

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