Hamilton was lapped by former F1 title rival Max Verstappen on Lap 41 of 63 at Imola.

It was contrasting fortunes for the two 2021 title contenders at Imola as Verstappen dominated the race to get his championship challenge back on track.

Conversely, Hamilton struggled to finish 13th as teammate George Russell finished a superb fourth in the second Mercedes.

“I mean he was lapped by us… so, maybe he should have stopped last year, he is thinking, maybe,” Marko joked to Sky Sports F1.

Hamilton signed a two-year contract extension on the eve of the new season after there was some doubt that he would return following the controversial end to his title duel with Verstappen in Abu Dhabi.

Despite Mercedes’ struggles this year, Hamilton has insisted that he has no plans to quit.

Verstappen downplays lapping Hamilton

Verstappen was quick to play down the fact he was able to lap his former title rival given how much Mercedes has struggled this year.

The German manufacturer hasn’t qualified higher than fifth this year, although it has stood on the podium on two occasions, mainly down to Red Bull’s poor reliability in the opening three grands prix.

Speaking after his latest victory, Verstappen said that he got no satisfaction from lapping Hamilton.

“I mean, they've been slow all year so it's not really a surprise or I feel happy lapping Lewis compared to anyone else, but it is what it is,” he said.

Sympathy for Charles Leclerc

It was a good day for Verstappen in the title race as F1 championship leader Charles Leclerc spun out of third place on Lap 53.

While running just behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari,  spinning into the barriers and damaging his front wing in the process.

From then on, it was damage limitation for Leclerc who recovered to sixth place to secure eight championship points. 

It does mean that Leclerc’s championship lead is now only 27 points going into the inaugural Miami Grand Prix next weekend.

When asked about Leclerc’s mistake, Verstappen said: “The mistake, yeah, it's easily done. Of course, he was pushing hard to try and fight Checo but…  It is painful but I think he knows that himself, you know, he doesn't need to hear that from anyone in here. 

“But it's still such a long championship. You can still gain a lot of points. But yeah, it's not great. But you can't change it now. I mean, he doesn't do it on purpose.”

Advantage Red Bull?

Red Bull has now closed to within 11 points of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship after securing its first 1-2 finish since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz endured another miserable race as he was spun out on the opening lap by Daniel Ricciardo, leading to another non-score.

Verstappen expects performance to ebb and flow between Red Bull and Ferrari, particularly with Miami being a completely different track layout.

“It’s always difficult to tell,” Verstappen added. “Every track is different. If you looked at Melbourne, definitely not. But it's all about… At the end it's details, you know, you have to always make sure that you have a good balance in the car, and you can have the fastest car, but if you have a bad balance, it's not working.

“So or you have to look after your tyres, you know, and these kind of things are very crucial with these new cars. And Miami, again, will be a big question mark, and it will probably be a bit hit or miss for some people. Hopefully of course, we will do well, but you don't know at the moment.”