Lewis Hamilton delivers Max Verstappen verdict as Red Bull star prepares for title charge

F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract

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Lewis Hamilton believes he is in for a tough battle this season as Max Verstappen prepares to launch his biggest title challenge yet. Hamilton is hunting a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship, which would take him clear of Michael Schumacher.

However, the Brit has not had the ideal start to the season as his testing has been heavily disrupted.

Hamilton struggled to spend as long as he wanted on track on Friday afternoon because of a sandstorm.

The following morning the 36-year-old beached his car in the gravel, losing more valuable time.

Red Bull have been quick all weekend in Bahrain and they are going full steam ahead to try and dethrone Hamilton.

“The speed of some of the other cars is impressive, especially Red Bull,” Hamilton admitted.

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“But the McLaren is doing well too. I like the challenge.

“Red Bull and Max Verstappen seem to be well positioned. We expect a tough battle throughout the season.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes have also suffered with engine problems this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas was limited to a singular lap on Friday because of engine transmission issues to the gearbox.

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Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin with a Mercedes engine, also encountered the same problem.

However, Hamilton is not concerned by the Silvers Arrows’ setbacks.

“I don’t waste time worrying, that deters you from finding the solution,” he explained.

“We’re just working hard and focusing on getting through the short amount of testing we have and trying to be as efficient as possible with it.

“When it doesn’t go smoothly, it’s better that it doesn’t go smooth now and goes smooth once we get into the racing.

“So this is the perfect time for us to find the issues and have the problems, so I welcome that and everyone’s just keeping their heads down.

“Nobody is particularly fazed by it, we’re a multi Championship-winning team and we know how to pull together and keep our head down and focus on the job.”

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