Max Verstappen says Lewis Hamilton title fight ‘would be great for the sport’

Max Verstappen said he would welcome the challenge of an “amazing” championship rematch with Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen raced to a crushing victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday following yet another one-sided display in his dominant Red Bull machine.

Hamilton finished runner-up to Verstappen with George Russell third in the other Mercedes.

Spanish Grand Prix standings
(PA Graphics)

Verstappen has won five of the opening seven rounds to establish a commanding 53-point title lead over team-mate Sergio Perez.

But Mercedes’ upturn in form at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya has provided Hamilton with renewed hope that his dream of a record eighth world title is not over.

Hamilton, who has not won a race since his contentious championship defeat to Verstappen at the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, said in Barcelona that he would continue in Formula One for as long as possible in order to fight Verstappen for the title again.

Verstappen is on course to race to a hat-trick of titles this season, but when asked how excited he would be about the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Hamilton next year, Verstappen replied: “It would be great for the sport.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen, right, is set for another championship this season (Joan Monfort/AP)

“If there are more teams fighting upfront, and that is what they want to achieve, then honestly that would be amazing.

“Hopefully throughout the year it will get closer, and maybe next year there will be more teams up there.”

Hamilton has only six months to run on his Mercedes contract and the British driver, 38, met with team principal Toto Wolff on Monday in the hope of rubber-stamping a new deal.

The meeting is understood to be one of a series of discussions between Hamilton and Wolff, and not thought to be a definitive moment in negotiations.

It is anticipated that Hamilton’s extension will be a multi-year deal, extending Hamilton’s stay in F1 beyond his 40th birthday.

“I am focused on making sure we have the car next year to challenge Red Bull from day one,” said Hamilton, who is already 83 points behind Verstappen in the standings.

“I am working as hard as I can with this team and I see so much strength with the team. They are still so hungry.

“These guys will take two seconds to enjoy themselves on Sunday and then they will be back in the books trying to figure out how we can win the next race and that is what I love about them.”