A ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will be out to ‘destroy’ title rival Max Verstappen this season after experiencing heartbreak in the final race of the 2021 campaign, insists former F1 driver Anthony Davidson. The Mercedes star was one lap away from winning a record-breaking eighth world title last season but lost under hugely controversial circumstances to Red Bull’s Verstappen.
Race director Michael Masi, who has since been sacked, was heavily criticised for his handling of the safety car in the final laps of the season finale in December at the Yas Marina circuit, which left Hamilton to consider his future in the sport. However, Hamilton confirmed his intentions to race again this season before sending a warning shot to the Dutchman, as he declared:
If you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait until you see this year.’ And Davidson – who raced 24 times and is a simulator driver for Mercedes – believes that statement of intent from a fired-up Hamilton will be a worrying sign for any of competitors just days before the new season kicks off. When Lewis Hamilton comes out with a sentence like that, you have to take notice,’ Davidson told Sky Sports.
He sure is fired up to win this thing once and for all and I think he’ll be hard to beat. He’s certainly coming into this season with a very bullish mentality. ‘There will be nothing more than Lewis wants from this season than to destroy Max Verstappen. Let’s not beat around a bush, he feels absolutely robbed as to what happened last year in Abu Dhabi, he wants to come out with a dominant car and he doesn’t even want to see Max on track, I’m sure.
‘He just wants to show him a clean pair of heels, disappear off into the distance and win his eighth world championship. While the controversial end to the season continues to be discussed by fans and pundits alike, Red Bull race director Christian Horner insists the comments have gone over Verstappen’s head and is ready to challenge once again.
‘I think it’s gone completely over his head. He doesn’t watch the BBC. He was delighted to get that first world championship, against such a strong opponent. I think that’s what made it so intense’, Horner told BBC Breakfast. The Red Bull chief also pinpointed the rivalry between both Verstappen and Hamilton. I think the rivalry between those two [Max and Lewis] has been so intense.
I think you might see a couple of other drivers come into that fray as well. It was epic last year and if that continues I think there’s going to be some fantastic races next season. The sport has never had so much coverage and so much support – it’s great to see. The new F1 season gets underway on March 20 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.