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Damon Hill believes Max Verstappen has had the luck of the draw this season in his battle with Lewis Hamilton as the championship looks set to go down to the wire in December. Hamilton currently leads the way by just two points over the Dutchman, with only seven races remaining of the 2021 season.
The two have been battling out since the opening race of the season at Bahrain, with Red Bull proving they would become a force to be reckoned with this season with Verstappen at the wheel.
Despite crashing out of the Italian Grand Prix however, the 1996 world champion believes luck has been on Verstappen’s side recently.
“You understand why people used to believe that the gods took a side in battle because in the last few races he’s definitely been lucky,” said Hill speaking on the F1 Nation podcast.
“Monza was obviously controversial, but the result was that a race went by without him losing points to Lewis.
“This weekend [in Russia] he should have lost a lot of points, but he didn’t.
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“In Silverstone, it was Hamilton who got lucky, but over the whole season Max seems to have luck more on his side than Lewis.”
Red Bull took a gamble ahead of the race in Sochi as they fitted a new power unit into Verstappen’s Red Bull, relegating the then-championship leader to the back of the grid.
The team were braced to take a new engine after Verstappen lost one of his at Silverstone, crashing heavily into the wall after colliding with Hamilton.
It seemed a viable option with the Dutchman already serving a three-place grid penalty handed to him from the Italian Grand Prix for causing a collision, after again coming together with his main title rival.
Mika Hakkinen, the two-time world champion, also praised Red Bull and their approach this season and added the engine swap was a gamble worth taking.
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“Red Bull Racing’s decision to give Max a new power unit, putting him to the back of the grid on a circuit which normally suits Mercedes, and eliminating his 3-place grid penalty, took a lot of courage,” wrote Hakkinen in his column for Unibet. “It really paid off.”
The Dutchman finished second in Sochi after rain changed the entire dynamic of the race on Sunday.
Teams were forced to change their slick tyres to intermediates, with Red Bull timing their pit stop perfectly.
“It was amazing to see Max finished second,” added Hakkinen, who won two world titles in 1998 and 1999 alongside McLaren.
“For a long time, it looked like this Grand Prix was going away from him, trapped outside the top five and finding it difficult to make the progress he wanted. When the rain came his pit stop was quick and perfectly timed.
“That second place means that although Lewis won the race and regained the lead in the World Championship, Max is only two points behind. The championship could not be more finely balanced.”
Hamilton leads the championship by two points heading to round 16, the Turkish Grand Prix, with the championship battle expected to heat up once again.
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