The pair engaged in their third on-track scrap in as many races in Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, with Verstappen initially getting ahead when he caught Hamilton napping at an early Safety Car restart and swept around the outside into Turn 1.

But a small error coming out of Turn 14 at the end of Lap 10 enabled Hamilton to get a great run on Verstappen’s Red Bull before he dived down the inside along the main straight to return the favour and retake second.

The seven-time world champion later passed Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas for the lead while Verstappen also jumped the Finn as the duo locked out the first two steps on the podium for the third successive race.

And both drivers see no reason why they can’t continue to keep it clean across the remainder of the 20 races this season.

“It is naturally down to respect,” Hamilton said.

“I think [were] both very, very hard but fair and I think that’s what makes great racing and great racing drivers.

“I think we will continue to keep it clean and keep it on the edge, but I don’t think either of us has a plan to get any closer than we have been.”

Verstappen described their on-track battles as “really cool”, adding he has never once doubted Hamilton when they have gone wheel-to-wheel.

“Especially when you race a driver, when you know that you can go to the absolute limit, I guess you can trust each other to just race super-hard,” he explained.

“That’s always really nice because you can see in the three races we’ve had it’s been really close to each other but predictable.

“Lewis has never had something like ‘oh, we’re going to crash’ or something. I always have full trust in Lewis that we always give each other enough space.”

Hamilton’s 97th F1 career win has given him an eight-point lead over Verstappen after three rounds in the 2021 title race, which is set to resume at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

 

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