Formula 1 2021: Hamilton vs Verstappen battle set to continue

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Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen podium

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen podium

Formula 1 fans are in for a treat over the next few weeks, with the upcoming schedule featuring some of the most eagerly awaited races this season.

The Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday saw Lewis Hamilton extend his lead over Max Verstappen to 14 points in the battle for this season’s Driver’s Championship.

F1 fans will feel they have hit the jackpot if the pair repeatedly go wheel-to-wheel this season, and there may well be some fireworks during the rest of the season.

Read on as we take a closer look at the next few F1 events and predict how the title race is likely to unfold over the coming weeks.

Monaco could produce a surprise

The prestigious Monaco Grand Prix takes centre stage on May 23 and the challenging circuit could well produce a surprise result.

Although Hamilton has triumphed on three previous occasions there, the twisty nature of the track can unsettle even the best drivers.

A victory for McLaren driver Lando Morris wouldn’t be the biggest surprise, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will also be eager to make his mark.

However, Daniel Ricciardo has a decent record at Monaco and could be worth an interest to secure a podium finish in this year’s renewal.

Hamilton unlikely to be as selfless in Azerbaijan

Hamilton will head to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in early June with a point to prove after finishing as runner-up when the race was last staged in 2019.

The seven-time champion was surprisingly generous at the first corner, allowing teammate Bottas to take a lead that he never relinquished.

Valtteri Bottas explains to Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton admitted that he eased off to ensure that Bottas wasn’t vulnerable to the Ferrari behind, thus allowing the Mercedes pair to remain intact.

He is likely to be pushing much harder this year, particularly with Verstappen mounting what looks to be a serious title challenge. Their rivalry will certainly drive more fans to watch Formula 1 races live this season, given the strength of the Red Bull car and Verstappen’s talent going up against Hamilton’s experience.

Switch to Turkey could favour reigning champion

The cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Hamilton as he chases his eighth world title.

The race in Montreal has been axed for the second successive year, and Turkey has now stepped in to replace the event in the 2021 calendar.

It proved last year that it could successfully host a race at short notice and Hamilton will head there as favourite to claim top spot on the podium.

The British star has won two of the last three races staged in Turkey and will fancy his chances of claiming another victory on June 13.

Hamilton hard to beat in France

Max Verstappen Red Bull Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

After nine years on the shelf, the French Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2018, with the iconic Paul Ricard Circuit hosting the event.

Hamilton was clearly happy that it had been restored to the schedule, taking the chequered flag in the last two races staged in France.

The France GP was cancelled last year, denying Hamilton the chance of the hat-trick, and he will be keen to achieve the feat this time around.

Verstappen finished second and fourth in those two races, and his much-improved Red Bull car should prove to be competitive.

Verstappen fancied to shine in Austria

Verstappen will be desperate to claim victory at the Austrian Grand Prix in what is the ‘home’ race for the Red Bull team.

The 23-year-old won the event in 2018 and 2019, but was forced out of last year’s race after just 11 laps with an electrical problem.

Mercedes have won five of the last seven races in Austria, but Hamilton was responsible for just one of those victories.

With Red Bull likely to pull out all the stops at their home event, Verstappen is fancied to claw back some points in this one.

Prediction: The start to the 2021 season sparked talk that Verstappen could break Hamilton’s stranglehold on the F1 title.

However, the British star appears to have the upper hand over his rival and is fancied to open up a healthy points gap over the coming weeks.