Former Ferrari engineer Ernest Knoors says that, if Max Verstappen is to win the title, he must avoid falling for Lewis Hamilton’s mind games.
For the first time in his F1 career, Verstappen is locked in a title fight this season, trailing Hamilton by just eight points after the first half of the campaign.
As the season has gone on, the battle between the two of them has heated up, with them clashing more and more both on and off track.
Knoors feels that the Mercedes man is starting to play mind games with his rival, and has warned the Dutchman not to fall for them.
“You can see from Lewis that especially the mental part is coming into play more and more,” he told the Dutch branch of Motorsport.
“Hamilton is very strong and skilled at that. Verstappen should not fall for that game, but rely on his own strength and that of his car.
“Some races will go more Mercedes’ way and some races will go his way.”
Summer break = incoming 😎
And here's how the drivers and teams stand after 11 rounds of the 2021 F1 season
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 2, 2021
Just two races before the end of the first half of the season, things were looking good for Verstappen and his team with them leading both championships.
That has changed since then though, with Verstappen scoring just five points and Sergio Perez none in the past two rounds after the Dutchman retired due to contact with Hamilton at Silverstone and Checo after being hit by Bottas at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with his team-mate picking up serious damage in that incident too.
All of that means that Hamilton leads Verstappen by eight points and Mercedes now lead Red Bull by 12 heading into the second half of the year.
Knoors says that the team is still working well enough to turn things around again though and thinks they can do it if they stay calm.
“If you look at Pérez and how they function as a team, they are very strong,” he added.
“The car is working well, Max is driving well. It’s just annoying that now you go into the summer break with two bad results.
“Silverstone is of course quite frustrating because you couldn’t do anything about that yourself. Then something happens in Budapest which you can’t do much about. Then you have to stay calm and cool.”