McLaren drivers hail Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s energising rivalry

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been praised for igniting the Formula One championship with their rivalry this season. The McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo hailed the gripping fight in which Hamilton and Verstappen were engaged at the unveiling of the special Gulf Oil livery they team will use on their cars at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton in the Mercedes and Verstappen in the Red Bull have enjoyed close competition in all four races this season. The British world champion has had the edge, with three wins to Verstappen’s one, and holds a slender 14-point lead in the world championship. Hamilton is 36 years old and has seven world championships, while Verstappen is 23 and this is the first time he has been in contention for the title. Their battles on track have been compelling.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who raced with Verstappen at Red Bull between 2016 和 2018, acknowledged their rivalry was giving F1 a boost and proving that Hamilton was more than capable of going toe-to-toe having long enjoyed a very strong car. Hamilton has won six of his titles with Mercedes in the last seven years – he was beaten only once in that time by former teammate Nico Rosberg.

“It’s good for the sport,“ 他说. “This was a matter of time for Max, we all know what his talent is like. A lot of people are tipping their hat to Lewis. He is getting it dished back at him and he is holding his ground, showing people who doubted him why he is as good as he is.”

Verstappen has made some bold moves on Hamilton, passing him at Imola and in Barcelona last Sunday, squeezing him wide through turn one. Hamilton however came back and passed the Dutchman later in the race. Britain’s Norris also recognised their hard but fair competition.

“They are pretty even as drivers and they put on a good show,“ 他说. “Max goes for those opportunities like turn one which was quite risky. Lewis has that knowledge, that if he had turned in they would have crashed because Max was pretty committed. But that’s the opportunities Max needs to take. That’s what makes it fun.”

The McLaren CEO Zak Brown, echoed the views of his drivers. “Lewis has had a pretty easy ride except his one year with Nico,“ 他说. “It’s a great rivalry, Max has made Lewis step up. He is definitely on his A-game. Lewis is a very smart driver, you can see him sitting there waiting to strike and he’s not over-eager, that’s his experience. Rivalries are great in the sport and having those two go at it might create some opportunities for us. It’s just a matter of time before they both are determined not to let up into turn one and neither comes out.”

They were speaking as McLaren revealed their one-off Gulf Oil livery for Monaco. The iconic orange and pale blue colours will adorn their cars in Monte Carlo, renewing their partnership with McLaren and returning one of motorsport’s most recognisable colour schemes to F1 just as McLaren enjoy a resurgence in F1. The team are third in the constructors’ championship, with Norris fourth in the drivers’ standings.

The team originally enjoyed a partnership with Gulf between 1968 和 1974, in F1, IndyCar and Can-Am. They secured seven F1 wins in that period and dominated Can-Am with 35 victories. They then enjoyed another partnership between 1995 和 1997 where they were very successful in sportscar racing with the McLaren F1 GTR.

The livery will be instantly recognisable to many, having first been used from the mid-1960s onwards on some of the truly great sportscars including the Ford GT40 and Porsche 917, between them winning three world championships and three victories at Le Mans. Pedro Rodríguez and Jo Siffert enjoyed wins in the Gulf 917 across the world establishing the livery globally and Britain’s Derek Bell went on to another victory at Le Mans in a Gulf Mirage Ford with teammate Jacky Ickx in 1975.