The pair are in a close scrap for this year’s world championship crown, having fought each other on-track three times in as many races and locked out the top two steps on the podium at the opening three rounds. 

Hamilton has taken two victories so far this season after defeating Verstappen last weekend in Portugal, while the Red Bull driver beat Hamilton to victory in Imola at the second race. 

The 97th victory of Hamilton’s F1 career has given him an eight-point lead over Verstappen heading into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, with 20 races still remaining to determine the destiny of the world title.

“It’s very tight,” Hamilton said of his battle with Verstappen. 

“I think it is a great fight between Mercedes and Red Bull and I’m sure also down the field and we will be pushing each other right to the last race. 

“We’re going to be sick of each other at the end I would imagine, or sick of racing, because there are so many races.

“I’m massively excited and driven,” he added. “I think we all are - as a team - to be in the fight with Red Bull. 

“I feel like maybe Red Bull lost a little bit of performance this weekend, because I don’t think we improved, but from the last race to here I think they took a sidestep closer to us this weekend, for whatever reasons. 

“But this is great. This is what we all live and breathe for, to get up and fight and try and pull out the smallest bits of performance to be able to fight a great competitor.” 

Despite the intense competition, both Hamilton and Verstappen have insisted they trust each other to keep their wheel-to-wheel battles clean throughout the campaign. 

Verstappen said he is relishing the prospect of a season-long battle with Hamilton as he looks to claim his maiden world championship and Red Bull’s first world title since 2013. 

“Yeah it’s close,” Verstappen acknowledged. “I wish it was closer! 

“It’s a long season and we can’t afford to have any retirement or silly mistakes so we just have to keep on doing what we’re doing.

“I think it’s what everyone wants to see but of course what I want as well, because the last few years we have not been close enough. 

“So it’s a good start to the season, that’s for sure, and I hope it can be like this for the rest of the season because it keeps everyone excited.” 

 

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