Hakkinen: Neither Max nor Lewis will lift next time

Colliding on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, Mika Hakkinen reckons this is just the start of a gloves-off battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

The title protagonists clashed at Copse on the first lap at Silverstone, Verstappen sent careening into the barriers at 150mph as he came off second best.

The stewards declared that Hamilton was to blame, slapping him with a 10-second penalty, which he overcame to win the grand prix.

Hamilton maintains he did nothing wrong, saying it was Verstappen’s over aggression that led to the crash, while the Red Bull driver called the Brit “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike” for his victory celebrations.

Sunday’s clash is just the beginning says Hakkinen.

The double F1 World Champion feels it was just a racing incident, but one that is set to be the catalyst in their future on-track battles.

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Writing in his latest Unibet column, he said: “Sunday’s collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton during the British Grand Prix was a pure racing incident.

“When you are racing at those speeds and going for the win, these things can sometimes happen.

“As a top driver, going for the World Championship, you are not there to back off. It’s our job to race, and I know from my own experiences that when you are racing wheel-to-wheel there is always the possibility of the cars touching.

“Max is feeling very confident. He has won five Grands Prix this year and is leading the World Championship. He made such a great start, and was not going to give up the position to Lewis very easily, particularly at such a fast corner which then leads into a complex of three corners – Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel – where overtaking is not really possible.

“Lewis is equally confident in himself and his car. He has achieved so much success, and has so much experience, which means he is very focused on the win, and to gaining track position over Max.

“When I saw them touch I stood up and thought ‘Oh My God’, because that is such a high speed corner. It’s very fast and not one at which you want to go off. I am very glad that Max was unhurt, and it is another sign of just how strong these cars are and the fantastic work which the FIA does to make sure you can walk away from that kind of impact. At 51G, it is the kind of impact that would not have been easy to survive in the past.

“This accident will really put some fire between these guys and their battle for the World Championship. Neither of them will want to repeat that accident, but they will be even more determined not to lift off the throttle the next time they are in this kind of close battle.

“We are going to see them fight hard for the rest of the season. It’s going to be really fascinating.”

Hamilton’s victory meant the Brit closed the gap to Verstappen to just eight points in the race for the 2021 Drivers’ title.