Vettel hopes Verstappen has stronger F1 package to fight Hamilton than he had

Sebastian Vettel hopes Max Verstappen will have ‘a better car or better position’ to contest the 2021 Formula 1 title against Lewis Hamilton than he did during their championship battles.

Vettel hopes Verstappen has stronger F1 package to fight Hamilton than he had

Following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, Vettel led a resurgent Ferrari to become Hamilton's closest challenger in the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.

Hamilton and Mercedes proved triumphant in both years, before the performances of both Vettel and Ferrari dipped across 2019 and 2020, allowing Hamilton to cruise to his sixth and seventh world titles.

The Briton has faced his strongest challenge since Vettel's Ferrari zenith from Verstappen and Red Bull this year, with the Dutchman currently leading the standings by six points with six grands prix remaining. 

Speaking prior to this weekend's United States Grand Prix, Vettel said he has enjoyed the battle between the two title protagonists this season, but hopes that Verstappen can keep the fight going over the final rounds after he and Ferrari proved unable to keep up with the intensity shown by Hamilton/Mercedes during their closing stages of their title fights.

“I hope that Max has a better car at the end, or better position to be in at the very end, because the fights that I was [in] with Lewis, unfortunately, we were not as competitive to really give him a hard time in the end,” the four-time world champion said.

“So I think it was quite clear and fairly easy for him to win the championship in the end.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, is sprayed with Champagne by Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st position, on the podium

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, is sprayed with Champagne by Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st position, on the podium

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin driver Vettel also wants the pair to maintain a healthy rivalry over the final part of the F1 season having suffered two major clashes so far this season at Silverstone and Monza.

“I think rivalry is good for any sport,” he said. “But I'm a huge fan of rivalry with respect. And I think we're seeing a very clean fight so far.”

The German is set to start the US Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to a power unit change, and predicted a “difficult weekend” at the Circuit of the Americas on Thursday. 

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