THE rivalry between Formula One world champion and favorite to claim the crown this year, Max Verstappen, has intensified yet again following events in Italy.
The two are not on the best of terms to put it mildly, with a series of incidents that perhaps surprisingly date back seven years, when a fresh-faced Verstappen announced himself on to the F1 scene as a brash 17-year-old.
It has continued ever since with the race in Monza ending for the pair with Verstappen’s car on top of Hamilton’s – not the sort of manoeuvre recommended by the F1 authorities!
But the sportsbooks in Illinois, like Caesars, are in no doubt that Verstappen is the man to beat, the Dutchman hardening at 4/6 (-150) to claim a first title, while Hamilton is 11/10 (+110) to make it five in a row and a career total of eight – put $10 on Hamilton to win the drivers’ championship and you get $21 back if he does.
Hamilton had just come out of the pits when the pair met on the track, with Hamilton on the inside line. Verstappen was in no mood to give any ground to his bitter rival and the two were virtually side by side as they entered a slow chicane. Verstappen’s Red Bull hit the kerb and then lifted into the air before coming down on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes with the Brit’s only protection the air box that sits above the driver’s head, reported bytebell.com.
With the cars deposited on the gravel, Verstappen climbed out first only to march off without even a cursory check on his competitor’s condition; Hamilton emerging shortly afterwards, thankfully none the worse for the collision.
The authorities decided the blame for the collision lay with Verstappen who has been handed a three-place grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix. For the record books, it might be worth mentioning the race itself was won by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, with teammate Lando Norris finishing second.
With the drivers’ championship currently reading Verstappen 226.5; Hamilton 221.5; the rest nowhere, even if the top two put each other out of half of the remaining races, one of them will still triumph. This is emphasised by the third in the betting, Sergio Perez, being available at 200/1 (20000), a bet for those expecting the outcome in Italy to be repeated in most of the remaining races.
Their rivalry dates back to 2014 when the then 17-year-old Verstappen was asked whether he believed Hamilton, who was 29 at the time, was the best driver in the championships, and responded with the quip that he could only tell if he was allowed to drive the Brit’s car. CNN International
The F1 watchers have highlighted the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2016 as the day the actual driving contest between the two began. In wet conditions, Hamilton won the race but afterwards everyone was talking about Verstappen, still a teenager at the time. He pulled off some outrageous overtaking manoeuvres to claim a podium finish after being forced to tear up a poor strategy from his Red Bull team, with similarities drawn at the time with racing legend Ayrton Senna.
The war of words has continued between the pair over the years, occasionally breaking out on the track with a crash at the British Grand Prix earlier this year ending with Verstappen in hospital – Hamilton was adjudged the guilty party on that occasion, his ten-second penalty unable to stop him claiming a race win.