Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
During Thursday's press conference at Imola, Lewis Hamilton revealed Sebastian Vettel as his greatest ever rival. Over the past decade, both Hamilton and Vettel have had significant rivalries while fighting for the Driver's Championship. Hamilton had a bitter rivalry with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg from 2014-16 while Vettel had a long-lasting rivalry with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso from 2010-13.
Reigning world champion Hamilton described his previous title battles with Vettel as draining but also acknowledged the mutual respect that grew for each other over those years. After three years of Mercedes' dominance from 2014-16, Ferrari finally seemed to have produced a car that was capable of fighting for the championship in 2017 and 2018. Vettel, who was then driving for Ferrari, enjoyed an early lead on points, but Mercedes and Hamilton fought back and ultimately won the championships in both seasons.
Speaking about the Hamilton vs Vettel rivalry, the seven-time world champion said, "Mine and Seb’s battle were my favourite so far. It’s knowing I was racing against an incredible driver, not only that but a great man in Seb who is a four-time world champion and we were racing against another team, he was at Ferrari who were very strong at the time. It took a lot out of both of us in that period of time, to remain focused to deliver weekend in, weekend out. That was a difficult period for us and it brought us closer, because the respect we have between us is huge."
Lewis Hamilton will be aiming to secure a record eighth Driver's Championship this year after he equalled Michael Schumacher's tally of seven last year. Hamilton's F1 2021 season got off to the perfect start as he beat Red Bull's Max Verstappen despite the Dutch driver demonstrating the better pace all weekend. Meanwhile, the same cannot be said for Vettel, who finished in 15th on his Aston Martin debut.
While speaking about the rivalry with Max this season, Hamilton raised the Dutch driver for his racing skills. "It’s different now if I am racing with Max, he doesn’t have the background that Seb has but he has the chance to be a future champion. Whether that is now or later depends on the job ultimately that the team and I do," said Hamilton. Fans will be thrilled to see the Hamilton vs Verstappen rivalry in Hamilton's record chasing year.
As per the F1 2021 schedule, Lewis Hamilton's next challenge takes place at the Imola Grand Prix this weekend. As per the Imola Grand Prix schedule, the event runs from April 16-18 with the race set to take place on Sunday, April 18 from 6:30-8:30 PM IST. The complete Imola Grand Prix schedule is given below along with the channels it will be telecasted on in India.
Free Practice 1: 2:30-3:30 PM IST on Star Sports Select 2 SD/HD
Free Practice 2: 7:00-7:30 PM IST on Star Sports 3 SD
Free Practice 3: 2:30-3:30 PM IST on Star Sports Select 1 SD/HD
Qualifying: 6:30-7:30 PM IST on Star Sports 2 SD/HD
Race: 6:30-8:30 PM IST on Star Sports 3 SD