Max Verstappen relishing ‘close battle’ with Lewis Hamilton at pivotal US Grand Prix

Verstappen leads the title race by six points going into the Texas race.

Dan Austin
Friday 22 October 2021 07:57
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<p>Max Verstappen has the edge over title rival Lewis Hamilton currently (PA)</p>

Max Verstappen has the edge over title rival Lewis Hamilton currently (PA)

Max Verstappen is relishing a ‘close battle’ with Lewis Hamilton at the US Grand Prix in Texas this weekend as their sensational Formula 1 championship fight heads into the final six races of a hectic season.

The Dutchman leads the seven-time world champion by six points ahead of Sunday’s race at the Circuit of the Americas, a track where Hamilton has won on five out of eight occasions since its introduction to the calendar back in 2012.

In the past few races the Mercedes car seems to have gained an edge on the Red Bull in straight line speed, but Verstappen believes his team has the ability to win for the first time since his home event at Zandvoort four outings ago.

“We have always been competitive in the US and have got close to some good results,” the 24-year-old told the official Formula 1 website. “It’s about converting that into a win now. We go to every track knowing that we can fight at least for a podium now, but also a win and that is different to past years.”

On the two occasions where Hamilton and Verstappen have attempted to race wheel-to-wheel so far this season, at Silverstone and Monza, an enormous crash has ensued almost immediately. Verstappen though, says he is looking forward to the fight this weekend.

“We are focussed on doing the best we can and always trying to win the race, and that will be no different in Austin. It will be another close battle this weekend and I am looking forward to that.”

Verstappen’s Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez, meanwhile, defended excellently to keep Hamilton at bay as the Briton marched through the field from 11th on the grid at Istanbul Park last time out, and believes the Red Bull can work well at this circuit.

“I feel great at the moment,” said Perez. “I cannot wait to get back in the car again and I am massively looking forward to the weekend.

“Going into the season run-in, we know we must maximise everything from our side. I think Mercedes have been very strong in the last four or five races and we haven’t been able to match them for speed. But I believe that Austin and Mexico are going to be good tracks for us, and you will see us producing stronger performances.”

Mercedes currently lead the Constructors’ Championship by 36 points to Red Bull, despite earning two fewer victories so far this season.

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