Lewis Hamilton responds to Fernando Alonso verdict on Max Verstappen F1 title fight
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Fernando Alonso has dismissed the hype surrounding Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen this early in the season, as the Formula 1 championship battle took a new twist in Monaco.
The seven-time world champion suffered his worst weekend of the year so far, struggling to get to grips with the tyres in Monte Carlo, and subsequently finished seventh in the principality, surrendering his lead of the championship.
To add insult to injury for Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas was forced to retire from the race while running in second place, giving their rivals control of the team standings too.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen cruised to victory, with the Dutchman taking the lead of the driver standings for the first time in his F1 career.
Teammate Sergio Perez finished fourth, with Red Bull snatching the lead by a single point over Mercedes for the first time since 2013.
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Yet two-time world champion Fernando Alonso reckons it doesn’t much matter who is leading now with 18 races still to go in the F1 season.
“Right now, in the sixth race, it means nothing,” said Alonso, speaking during the press conference ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“It will not change anything for Lewis or Max, I’m guessing.
“If it’s the last race, maybe changes a little bit, it’s better to be in front.
“But at the sixth race, you are not thinking to get in the points.”
Hamilton had a 14 point lead heading into the weekend at Monaco in his bid to become an eight-time world champion and beat Michael Schumacher’s feat.
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Responding to Alonso’s comments, Hamilton agreed it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re the hunter or the hunted.
“I would say I agree in the sense that I’m still a hunter,” added Hamilton.
“You’re hunting the whole year whether you’re ahead or behind, so it doesn’t really feel any different for me.
“We’re all hunting for that same goal right? Of winning races and winning championships, so I think we’re all hunters.”
Championship leader Verstappen suspects Mercedes will bounce back from a dismal Monaco – which the Silver Arrows left with just seven points from their two drivers.
“Of course we always try to target the season we are having at the moment,” said Verstappen, with Red Bull leading the championship for the first time since 2013.
“It’s very nice after Monaco, winning the race and obviously leading the championship. But we want to be leading the championship after the final race, that’s the most important.
“It’s a good boost for the team and we are very happy but we have to keep pushing because Mercedes might have had a difficult Monaco GP but they are still very quick. We’ll see this weekend what they’re going to do.”
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