Lewis Hamilton faces new Max Verstappen issue to deal with in 2022 F1 season

Formula 1: Hamilton and Verstappen crash at 190mph

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Alain Prost believes Lewis Hamilton will face an even tougher challenge from Max Verstappen next season as the Dutchman will be more composed now that he has won the world championship. The Red Bull star pipped the Brit to F1 glory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale following the most dramatic of endings to a season.

The Dutchman passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum hugely in his favour. 

The 24-year-old made the move on the Brit early in what proved to be a final lap shootout and held his nerve to secure the first championship of his career.

Mercedes were seething at FIA race director Michael Masi after he initially decided to not allow cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

And now following Verstappen’s controversial victory, Prost – who won four world championships between 1985 and 1993 – believes Hamilton will face an even greater threat from the Dutchman in 2022 due to the Red Bull star’s improved composure. 

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“Once you have a world title in your pocket, you drive and then you think differently,” Prost told nl.motorsport.com.

“At least the pressure is less. 

“He will know even better when to push and when not to and he will be even better at the end of the ride become a racing driver.”

Prost’s comments come just weeks after Verstappen sealed his first title in controversial circumstances.

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While the Dutchman perhaps deserved the title as he won more races and secured a greater number of pole positions than Hamilton, Verstappen has been criticised by many for his aggressive driving style. 

It led to numerous clashes with the Brit, but Prost insists either driver deserved to win the title.

“Both drivers gave us an incredible show this year and both drivers deserved to be world champions,” added the Frenchman. 

“It’s that simple. 

“Based on this season you can’t choose between Max and Lewis, you have to judge them together. 

“You can talk about everything, including Silverstone, but at the end of the day they both deserved it. 

“This scenario is good for Formula 1 in any case and also good for Max, although it might be a shame that the year with controversy has ended.”

F1 will return in 2022 for pre-season testing on February 23 before the opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

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