Hamilton relished opportunity to race Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton said the chance to fight Max Verstappen for victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix was a thrill like no other a racing driver can have.

The two drivers had dominated the build-up to the 11th race of 2019, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner playfully suggesting Verstappen is the best driver in F1 right now and Hamilton responding by saying he would happily have the Dutchman join him at Mercedes to prove himself in equal machinery. Fittingly, they duked it out for victory on Sunday, going wheel-to-wheel at one point before Hamilton and Mercedes won on a strategic masterstroke.

“Honestly, there really is no better feeling from a racing driver’s point of view, when you have a race like this and face a really strong competitor and a great driver like Max at their best,” Hamilton said after the race.

Vestappen cleanly defended an attack from Hamilton at one point, with the two drivers avoiding contact as they went wheel-to-wheel as they jousted for the lead.

“Max is at his best and is continuing to perform great. It’s really comforting and really important to see the respect level between us. It was really respectful driving and I hope to continue that.”

“When I got into second I was like ‘OK, this whole battle we’ve been talking about me having with Max, we are going to have that today,’ and it was really awesome.

“He put the car in some really good places. I gave him space and more but that’s really just from a mindset that we are fighting slightly differently. If we were fighting on the same points, it may have been a lot more aggressive, but there was no need for that and it was really just about making sure that when you do finally pull off an overtaking manoeuvre that it was a clean, full sweep by.”

Hamilton’s win capped off another entertaining race, the fourth in a row since the dull French Grand Prix. That contest led to many questions about the future of F1, but Hamilton is thankful that Verstappen and Red Bull has helped change the narrative going into the summer break,.

“I really am happy that, particularly after a period of time where everyone was so negative talking about the sport, and then all of a sudden we get this big step up from the Red Bulls and now we have a really good battle on our hands and it looks like it will stay.

“I think Ferrari will come back into play at some of these races like Spa and Monza. They will be quick on the straights and there aren’t a lot of corners, so those places I think they will be really strong. I think that bodes well for them.

“Red Bull have been doing great. It’s awesome to see and I hope their performance continues. And I really, really hope we have more battles like that.”

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