Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen: Jenson Button’s F1 prediction as rivalry continues at Hungarian GP

Sky Sports F1’s Jenson Button believes Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are set for more “feisty” battles with the “gloves off” as their reignited rivalry continues at this weekend’s Hungarian GP.

Following many intense but largely respectful wheel-to-wheel duels to start the 2021 season, Hamilton and Verstappen’s title fight suffered its first major flashpoint at the British GP as the star drivers crashed heavily at the start of the Silverstone race.

  • Red Bull say Max crash cost £1.3m | Team still mull penalty challenge

That, along with the fact Hamilton has cut Verstappen’s championship’s lead to just eight points after capitalising on his DNF with a home victory, has significantly raised the stakes for the Hungarian GP- the last race before F1’s August summer break.

And Button says the pair won’t be backing down from here – although hopes they at least clear the air before their next battle.

“It’s going to be a feisty one from here on, which is good for us watching but whether it’s good for them – I don’t know!” said Button, the 2009 world champion and Hamilton’s former team-mate at McLaren. “Emotions are running so high, these are two of the best drivers that have ever driven F1 cars and it is going to be fisticuffs over the next few races.

“We’ve just got to hope it’s done in the right manner. I think after this race hopefully they’ll discuss it, that’s what’s important to me it’s that these drivers understand what happened and they talk about it and they move on, and then they can fight as they should with the gloves off.”

While both sides – Hamilton and Verstappen, and their teams Mercedes and Red Bull – blamed each other for the Silverstone crash with the war of words fraught, Hamilton insisted he “didn’t have any issues” with his rival after the last race and that he would be “open” to talking to him before Hungary.

“There’ll be a lot of tough races coming up and we have to learn to strike a decent balance,” added Hamilton on how he will approach his next battles with Verstappen, who he said was “too aggressive” at Silverstone.

The Hungarian GP is live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend.

Can Hamilton build on Silverstone momentum in Hungary?

Budapest’s twisty Hungaroring circuit is a classic F1 track, and one that could well play more into the hands of Red Bull given their advantage over Mercedes at similar high-downforce circuits this year – even though the Silver Arrows’ upgrade certainly seems to have brought them closer to the team that are still the championship leaders despite their point-less Silverstone.

Hamilton has installed Red Bull and Verstappen, who is fully fit after a trip to hospital following his crash, favourites for the event – but is just happy to be back in the title fight given his deficit a few weeks ago.

“Honestly it’s been such a hard year,” he said. “One I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve loved this battle but an emotional rollercoaster as it always is within a championship.

“I really enjoyed those first four races where it was close as it was [at the British GP]. Then we saw them take that step ahead and I would say we’ve definitely made some mistakes as a team but just also lost a bit of performance, so to see an upgrade come back and us get back in the fight and be relatively close and to even be able to qualify ahead was really, really amazing and it just felt I was inspired by what the team brought.

“Did I think that we would be back in the title fight? Jeez, I don’t know. I prayed and hoped for it but I thought that it would be a long slog to try and regain any of the points but we’re now closer; he’s still got quite a few points ahead but the race is on.”

Hungarian GP schedule on Sky Sports F1

Thursday
5pm: The F1 Show (also streamed on Sky Sports F1 YouTube)
6pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday
9am: Formula 3 Practice
10am: Hungarian GP Practice One (session starts 10.30am)
12.45pm: Formula 3 Qualifying
1.45pm: Hungarian GP Practice Two (session starts 2pm)

Saturday
9.25am: Formula 3 Sprint Race 1
10.45am: Hungarian GP Practice Three (session starts 11am)
1pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Formula 3 Sprint Race 2
6pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday
10.55am: Formula 3 Feature Race
12.30pm: Hungarian GP: Grand Prix Sunday
2pm: THE 2021 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
4pm: Hungarian GP: Chequered flag
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
6pm: Hungarian GP Highlights

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