'Boring F1' - Max Verstappen promises exciting fight with Lewis Hamilton after dull dominance

Max Verstappen expects his rivalry with Lewis Hamilton to breathe new life into Formula One following the British world champion’s “boring” dominance of the sport.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing is hoping to taste victory in his battle with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton this year.

Ahead of the second round of the season in Imola, a bullish Verstappen says he has all the tools to stop Hamilton from winning an unprecedented eighth world championship, and also indicated he will not quit Red Bull for Mercedes next year.

Verstappen, 23, is primed to take the challenge to Hamilton in what is hoped will be a rivalry for the ages.

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Three weeks ago in Bahrain, the grid’s two brightest stars went toe-to-toe in the best season-opening round of recent memory, with Hamilton, in his inferior Mercedes, defying the odds to beat Verstappen.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were extremely competitive during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton has won six of the last seven titles in a machine which has predominantly been the class of the field.

But speaking ahead of Sunday’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, Verstappen said: “F1 needs a proper fight because for the last few years it has been a bit boring.

“On the Monday after the race, as a fan you really want to be looking forward to the next one, knowing that there are two, or even three teams fighting for that win.

“I guess after Lewis won his last six championships where the battle was maybe not as high for him, now being a seven-time world champion and the most successful driver in F1, he really wants that battle.

A Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team member holds a timing board from the pitwall to show the gap between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 28, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain.

“He has already achieved everything and way more than you can ever imagine. Winning those amount of titles is very rare and it is not going to happen many times.

“But he is like, ‘okay, I am getting towards the end of my career and it is nice to see the younger guys coming up and making it more difficult for me’.

“And, of course, from my side, I am very happy to make it more difficult for him.”

Hamilton, 36, certainly appears rejuvenated by the prospect of a title tussle with Verstappen, who some, perhaps prematurely, have claimed would beat him in an identical car.

His expert defensive drive in Bahrain moved him to a remarkable 96 victories, while he is just two poles short of 100.

In contrast, Verstappen, who fluffed his lines at the curtain raiser after he performed an illegal move on Hamilton for the win, has started just four of his 120 races from the front, triumphing on 10 occasions.

Is Verstappen confident he can beat the record-breaking Briton over the course of a 23-round season?

“Yes, I think so,” he replies. “I just need to be quick on the track and that will do it.

“Lewis has a lot of experience but that is fine, I am up for it. Lewis is a cool guy and a fair driver so we race hard and trust each other which is very important.

“But is there more pressure on me now? No, it is less because I have a faster car. Everything is easier. It is easier to put a good lap together, it is easier when you are at the front.

“There are no nerves when you start first because that is what I love. I like to be chased. I prefer that much more than hunting.”