'Keep him down': F1 champ's advice for Verstappen in Hamilton battle

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·Sports Reporter
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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are separated by only six points in the F1 drivers championship.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are locked in a titanic battle for the 2021 F1 drivers' championship. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen has to seize on every error from reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and force him to lose form in order to win the championship, former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg says.

The Red Bull driver is locked in a fierce battle with Hamilton for this season's drivers championship, holding a six-point lead in the standings with six races to run.

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The pair have clashed a number of times during the season, with incidents in the British and Italian grands prix standouts in an occasionally acrimonious battle.

Hamilton and Mercedes have dominated F1 ever since the introduction of turbo-hybrid power units to the sport for the 2014 season.

The British driver has won every drivers title since their introduction except for 2016 - when Mercedes teammate Rosberg bested him in a thrilling championship fight.

Uniquely placed to offer a glimpse into Hamilton's psyche, Rosberg said capitalising on the times when the usually relentless combination of driver and team were off their game was crucial.

“To win a Formula 1 world championship, first of all you need to look at your rival,” Rosberg said in an Interview with Square Mile.

“In [my] case, it was Lewis, he was the only real rival, and he’s now proven to be the best of all time, so the level is unbelievably high.

“But, as is the case with any human, there are also some weaknesses.

“Lewis also has these periods where he loses a bit of motivation – he has these dips in form – and there it’s important to maximise those moments, to keep him down for a bit longer. 

"If all these ingredients come together you stand a chance.”

Rosberg added Verstappen would have to reach a level of consistency higher than that of Hamilton, saying there was really no room for error.

"It’s important to be at your absolute 110 per cent for the whole season, because anything less, you’re just not going to have a chance against (Hamilton)," he said.

“And it’s also important to be consistent over the whole season, to really not have any big, bad races, and deliver at every moment."

Albert Park set to return to 2022 Formula One calendar

Melbourne's Albert Park grand prix, the traditional Formula One curtain raiser, has been pushed back to April 10 in a record-breaking 23-event calendar for 2022.

Australia has some of the strictest Covid-19 travel restrictions in the world but F1 executives remain hopeful they will ease in time for the race to be held for the first time since 2019.

Canada, Singapore and Japan are also back on the schedule but Shanghai is again absent. A statement from F1 said that China would be "restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow".

The 23 races are scheduled within a tight 36-week period with seven back-to-back races, two triple headers, and six races in seven whirlwind weeks following the August break.

Daniel Ricciardo will return to his home race at Melbourne's Albert Park next F1 season.
F1 will return to Melbourne's Albert Park for the 2022 season, once agains allowing fans to watch home hero Daniel Ricciardo race. (Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images)

Bahrain will host the opening round of the new campaign on March 20, with Abu Dhabi the stage for the concluding race exactly eight months later. The finish is three weeks earlier than this year's to avoid a clash with the football World Cup in Qatar.

Miami will make its F1 debut on May 8, one of two races in the United States. Italy also has two races, at Imola and Monza.

F1 will also undergo a major overhaul of it regulations next season in the hope of producing closer racing, while CEO Stefano Domenicali has stated his desire to stage sprint races at as many as eight events.

With AAP

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