Lewis Hamilton would relish Max Verstappen 'fight' for championship
Lewis wants Red Bull and Verstappen in title battle , and would also welcome him as a team-mate - so he could prove he was F1's best
By Matt Morlidge at the Hungaroring
Last Updated: 02/08/19 9:43am
Lewis Hamilton says he hopes Max Verstappen's storming F1 2019 form continues so they can battle for the championship - and also insists he would relish squaring off against the Dutchman as a team-mate.
After Mercedes and Hamilton dominated the opening eight races of the season, Red Bull and Verstappen have won two of the last three and the 21-year-old has produced some epic performances - so much so that debate has risen in recent months about who F1's best driver is.
Verstappen's superb win last weekend in Germany has seen him move 63 points behind Hamilton, the five-time world champion, in the standings and just 22 points behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull are expected to be strong at this weekend's Hungarian GP, the last race before the summer break, and Hamilton admitted he has been impressed by both driver and team.
"Time will tell [if we will battle for the championship]," Hamilton told reporters. "I think he's done a great job and Red Bull have clearly done a great job in quite a few of the races now.
"I think they will be quick here. They are in general slowly catching us up - though it's easier to catch up than it is to stay ahead and be the leader. But it's great to see them progressing.
"We want the competition. We'll be ready for the fight whatever the case."
Hamilton: Max at Mercedes would 'work well for me'
Verstappen has long-been linked with a move to Mercedes, particularly this year as he consistently delivers on the track, while off of it there have been rumours about an exit clause in his Red Bull contract.
Mercedes say they will make a decision on who Hamilton's team-mate for next season will be this month, with Bottas under pressure and Esteban Ocon also linked.
When asked about potentially partnering Max, Hamilton replied: "I've honestly got no problem with it. As I've said before, I like working with Valtteri.
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"I don't know how that [Verstappen] dynamic would work for the team, but I'm not saying it would, or would not. I see positives and potential negatives, obviously there's always positives and negatives with different people that you end up working with."
While non-committal with his first answer, a grinning Hamilton added: "In some ways it works well for me because I see stories that we've got different cars and that's the only [reason I beat him].
"That gives me an opportunity to show you that that's not the case!"
Verstappen: Let's not think about title yet
Verstappen said he "didn't care" about any comparisons between himself and Hamilton while also claiming he was not thinking about potentially challenging the Englishman for the title.
"I just try to do the best possible job every weekend and with Mercedes having had such a dominant start to the season, I think it's really hard to catch them," Verstappen said. "I'm going to try but I'm not thinking about the championship."
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But while Verstappen believes Red Bull-Honda are not the "favourites" at the Hungaroring this weekend, he has been encouraged by their improvements.
"Every single race we try to bring stuff to the car to make it even faster, and so far everything from the factory has been working," he stated. "That's of course very positive."
Sky Sports F1's Hungarian GP schedule
Friday, August 2
9.45am: Hungarian GP Practice One Build-up
10am: Hungarian GP Practice One
11.55am: F2 Practice
1,45pm: Hungarian GP Practice Two Build-up
2pm: Hungarian GP Practice Two
3.50pm: F2 Qualifying
4.30pm: Hungarian GP: Story So Far
Saturday, August 3
7.55am: F3 Qualifying
9am: F2 Race One
10.45am: Hungarian GP Practice Three Build-up
11am: Hungarian GP Practice Three
12.10pm: Paddock Walkabout
1pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying Build-up
2pm: HUNGARIAN GP QUALIFYING
3.30pm: The F1 Show
3.45pm: F3 Race One - Live on Red Button
4pm: F3 Race One
Sunday, August 4
8.55am: F3 Race Two (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
10.15am: F2 Race Two
10.30pm (Sky One): The F1 Show
11.40am: Porsche Supercup
12.30pm: Hungarian GP: Pit Lane Live
1,30pm: Hungarian GP: On The Grid
2.10pm: THE HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: Hungarian GP Paddock Live
5.30pm: Hungarian GP Highlights
6.30pm: Hungarian GP Best Bits
7pm: Hungarian GP Race Rerun
Don't miss the next instalment of F1 2019 at the Hungarian GP this weekend on Sky Sports F1 - the final race before the summer break. Find out how to watch all the 2019 season live.