Hamilton predicts closest fight so far with Verstappen in 2021

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Despite dominating the 2020 season, Lewis Hamilton anticipates the "closest racing" yet between himself and Max Verstappen in 2021.

After all the pre-season hype, this year has seen Red Bull struggle to get on top of their RB16 car while Mercedes made gains much bigger than anyone expected.

But at the Eifel Grand Prix, the Dutchman came the closest he has been so far to a pole position in qualifying, though didn't quite have the pace to keep up with Lewis on race day.

And as Red Bull continue to close the performance gap to Mercedes, the Briton believes F1 can look forward to more battles between himself and Verstappen.

"You saw they had the fastest lap at the end [at the Nurburgring], and I pushed as hard as I could to get the fastest lap. So they've got a great car and I think they are continuously improving," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"So I think it's going to be this close between us, particularly for the rest of the season.

"There's going to be tracks that might favour them, maybe, and then going into next year it is a similar car to what we have so I think you're going to see the closest racing probably between us two and our team in the next 12 months."

For many, it is only a matter of time before Verstappen essentially becomes the new Hamilton on the F1 grid.

And even after claiming his record-equalling 91st win at the Nurburgring, Hamilton paid tribute to Max's ability.

"He's such a great talent, he's so fast and consistent, so it's not easy to beat this young up-and-coming champ," he told Sky Sports.

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Not only that, Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects Verstappen only get better. 

"Is there more to come from Max? Look, I think just as he gains experience he’s just maturing as a driver," Horner said.

"He’s only just literally turned 23 years of age, but he’s got a significant amount of races behind him now and he’s just growing and growing.

"You can see that maturity in the car, in his racing and I think there’s exciting times ahead of him."