Berger: Intense Hamilton/Verstappen fight what F1 needs

The intense title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which has spilled over into controversy, is exactly what Formula 1 needs, says former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B collide

Hamilton and Verstappen will resume their fight in Russia this weekend fresh from their latest collision at the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

With the Monza clash coming quite soon after the pair tangled at the British Grand Prix in July, there is no indication of there being any let up in their fight for glory.

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Berger, who won races for Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren in a lengthy career, thinks that rather than the clashes between the two drivers attracting negative headlines, they are actually helping drive up interest in grand prix racing.

And he suggests that after years where the title battle was pretty much the domain of Mercedes alone, the open content this season is more than welcome.

Speaking about the fallout from Monza, Berger said: “Everything is said already and for me it was a racing incident.

“If you want to say who could have avoided it more, maybe that was Max, and that is why he got the three places grid penalty as well.

“But much more important is that this is exactly what Formula 1 needs. This is racing. Finally we have two big guys racing each other, and it’s even better that they are from two different teams.

“Can you imagine what would happen if you had a third driver in a Ferrari fighting up front as well? You would have full grandstands and people watching it again.

“This is what Formula 1 was looking for, for so many years. It is so important for the sport to have these kinds of things.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, walks away from his damaged car

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, walks away from his damaged car

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Berger, who is now in charge of the DTM, thinks that the strengths of both drivers makes it hard to predict which one will come out on top.

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However, the Austrian thinks it would be better if Verstappen triumphed as that would be something new for F1.

“I think for the entire sport it would be good to have a change,” he said when asked for his thoughts on who he thinks will come out on top.

“But having said that, it is also great to have Lewis Hamilton still performing as he does after so many years, still having that killer instinct and having the discipline for so many years.

“I would also love to see Lewis becoming the greatest of all time, so it is really difficult to give you a straight answer on this one.

“But we have seen Lewis winning four championship in a row, and we all know that Max Verstappen is a superstar by now as well. So it would be great to see the young guy come out on top.”

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