Webber: Hamilton has supported Mercedes in the first two races

webber hamilton mercedes imola 2021 qualifying

Mark Webber believes that Lewis Hamilton’s driving has “supported” Mercedes during the first two races, adding that the W12 is “not easy”.

Hamilton currently leads the drivers’ championship standings by a single point from Max Verstappen, with Mercedes and Red Bull looking very closely matched so far.

The seven-time champion has not faced this sort of external competition early on in the season since Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel started the 2018 campaign quickly.

Looking ahead to the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao this weekend, Webber said that Hamilton and Verstappen are “gladiators” and predicted “fireworks” between the two at some point this season.

“I think Hamilton has supported Mercedes a bit in the first two races,” he told Marca. “The car is not easy, far from it, but Lewis has achieved the results and even lead the world championship.

“But he has a tough rival in Verstappen. We are all fans of Max’s style, watching his racing is incredibly spectacular which is exactly what we ask of an F1 driver. They are two gladiators and that is what this sport needs, an intense rivalry and the peak moment will come when there will be fireworks between the two, I am convinced.

“At the moment they get along and respect each other a lot, but during the season Hamilton is a 12-round fighter, he will always be on the lookout and against him you must be prepared to endure the whole fight. And in Milton Keynes, Red Bull and Honda can fight them and they know they face a tough fight.”

Asked about the early season performance of Red Bull, Webber was very impressed and said that each part of the team is “mentally prepared to fight”.

“They have never been so prepared,” he added.

“They know that they have a great opportunity, that they have to be very precise and always be ready to fight because Lewis doesn’t give you a second chance. They have the right man for it in the cockpit. In the last test we have seen what they are capable of at the pit stops.

“Mercedes is not being the best at this, although it is a great team, of course. But each component of the Red Bull team is mentally prepared to fight and they know how to fight to win, there are other teams that are not used to it, but Red Bull is. They hope to win, although they have the utmost respect for Lewis and Mercedes.”