Lewis Hamilton knows he must ‘fight fire with fire’ vs Max Verstappen in tense title duel

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Former F1 driver and Sky pundit Martin Brundle says he won’t be surprised if we see a clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen again this year but added the Briton must fight “fire with fire” to win the title this season.

The two title protagonists had their second tangle at the Italian Grand Prix, with both drivers ending up in the gravel at Monza, with Verstappen handed a three-place grid drop to be taken at the Russian Grand Prix.

“They’ve got to show each other some fairly robust elbows – they’ve got to keep it sensible, of course – but we know how aggressive Max is, and Lewis knows that and Lewis knows you’ve got to fight fire with fire,” Brundle told Sky Sports.

“If we see this again, I won’t be at all surprised. We’ve got two truly great drivers in two very similarly-paced cars, they are going to be sharing the same piece of tarmac again.”

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Hamilton was exiting the pits on lap 26 when he found himself alongside the Dutchman heading into the chicane at Turn 1.

The Briton defended his position, as we’ve seen from him countless times this season, with Verstappen bumping over the kerbs, propelling his Red Bull in the air, landing awkwardly on the cockpit of the Mercedes.

Hamilton was then seen trying to reverse the car to rejoin the race, however, Brundle added he knows the seven-time world champion has plenty of fight in him to take this championship to the wire.

“Finding reverse gear in a Formula One car is not the easiest thing to do, and Lewis was trying to reverse out,” Brundle explained.

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“I think Max recognised that he must be okay, he’s put it in reverse and he’s trying to get out of the accident.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of love lost between them. Obviously, Max was fairly bruised – literally – about the incident at Silverstone at Copse Corner at very high speed.

“So, I don’t think he showed a huge amount of concern, but he quite clearly knew that Lewis was functioning and had found reverse gear and was applying it.”

Verstappen had gone a lap longer than Daniel Ricciardo, aiming to pull out the over-cut on the McLaren at Monza, however in an uncharacteristic mistake from the team, the Dutchman endured an 11-second pit stop due to a problem with his right-front wheel.

It meant he was thrust alongside Hamilton, as the seven-time world champion rejoined the track on lap 26, ultimately leading to the incident at the Rettifilo chicane which ended the race for both drivers.

“Lewis didn’t want him to come past, they both knew Max had to finish that move on the track, otherwise the move was off, and following there [at Monza] wasn’t so easy,” Brundle said.

“So all of those circumstances, and the two of them ended up one car on top of the other. Max was driving angry because of his long pit stop and he’d just been put out of position in the race, and I think there was a bit of history there from Imola, from Barcelona, from Silverstone – and Lewis knows he can’t yield to Max.

“Max is aggressive. One way or another, they’re going to keep meeting in the middle.”

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