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Experts expect 2021 title battle to intensify

Experts expect 2021 title battle to intensify
© Reuters
Formula 1 is relishing the intense head-to-head between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in 2021.

Formula 1 is relishing the intense head-to-head between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in 2021.

Their rivalry for this year's world championship came to a contentious crescendo at Silverstone, when Verstappen was briefly hospitalised after a 51G crash following high-speed contact with his Mercedes challenger.

Nico Rosberg, who won a similarly-intense battle with Hamilton in 2016, calls it just the latest "battle of the generations" in F1 history.

"It reminds me of Senna against Schumacher, Schumacher against Alonso, Alonso against Vettel," he told Sky Deutschland.

"And we'll see more of it, I'm sure. Both of them will maintain their level of aggression, with neither giving in at all."

Red Bull top official Dr Helmut Marko agrees that "unfortunately" the Senna-Prost comparison is appropriate.

"But there are still a lot of races and I hope that the emotions on both sides will subside," he said.

"Realistically, it does seem to be developing in that direction," Marko admitted, referring again to the notorious Senna-Prost battle of decades past.

1996 world champion Damon Hill wonders of the Verstappen-Hamilton situation: "Is the relationship irreparable? Are they both at war now?"

"What we want is a fair, tough, sporting confrontation," he added.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, however, does not believe the intensity of the rivalry will settle in any way in the wake of the British GP controversy.

"Max is no coward - he will not take his foot off the gas," he insisted. "The only thing I can imagine is that he will look a little more in the mirrors."

Schumacher also told Bild newspaper: "This psychological war began very early and was started by Red Bull. It will now come to a head.

"I think what we will see now is both sides trying again and again to disrupt the other."

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone thinks these types of battles are "always good" for the sport's popularity.

"The fans want to see it," he told f1-insider.com.

"Why did everyone get up in the middle of the night to watch Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier? Because they expected a tough fight and something spectacular.

"It's no different in Formula 1," Ecclestone added.

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