Formula One fans should enjoy the ‘generational’ rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen according to 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg.
The German retired immediately after beating former teammate Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship five years ago, and while he remains the last man to deny the Briton the title, Rosberg believes Verstappen’s emergence is vital for the future of the sport.
The Dutchman, 23, has emerged as the most likely contender to deny 36-year-old Hamilton a record eighth world title and the rivalry came to a head at the British Grand Prix last weekend with a dramatic collision between the pair.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are ensued in a fierce battle for the championship
The rivalry intensified at the British Grand Prix where the two leaders collided
Hamilton narrowed the gap at the top to eight points with victory as Verstappen had a DNF
Nico Rosberg was the last person to take the F1 crown away from Hamilton back in 2016
Rosberg told MailSport: ‘As a fan it such an awesome battle to follow because it is a battle of the generations. It is the best of the current generation with the best of the future generation and it marks a generational change.
‘It does remind me of my battle with Lewis, but it was different because our battle was team internal which added layer of complexity.
‘Nevertheless, it is just fascinating to watch, these guys just push the limits of what they are doing.
‘This is exactly what F1 needed after all the years of Lewis’ domination, it’s the next step for the sport.’
With Verstappen leading the standings going into the Silverstone race, tensions boiled over when Verstappen was sent crashing into a barrier after a 180mph collision with his rival.
In the aftermath of Hamilton’s victory, Dutchman Verstappen is now seven points ahead with 13 races remaining of the season, but the incident drew much criticism from across the sport.
However, Rosberg believes that such an outcome is inevitable when two drivers are competing at the highest level of the sport and backed Verstappen to eventually reach the pinnacle of Formula One.
He added: ‘For me, it was a racing incident that happens when these guys push to the absolute limits then at some point contact is going to happen but it is a battle we can really look forward to for the rest of the season.’
‘I am convinced that Verstappen is the future world champion and he has the car to do it this year. But it is impossible to predict who is going to win it this year. It is so close, so exciting, so good and that is the beauty of it that you just can’t predict.’
Since his retirement, Rosberg has become a prolific investor and entrepreneur focusing on green technology, including flying taxis and encouraging Formula One to become carbon neutral by 2025.
He was also an early-stage investor in the burgeoning electric racing series Formula E, which this weekend will be held among the streets of London.
Rosberg believes Verstappen’s emergence at the top is exactly what ‘F1 needed’
Championship leader Sam Bird will be hoping for success on home territory, while Rosberg is delighted at the progress made by the sport since it first debuted in 2014.
He said: ‘I saw Formula E as a fantastic opportunity for many car manufacturers around the world to showcase how cool electric mobility can be and in essence I have been proved right, there are now nine car manufacturers racing in Formula E. Every car manufacturer is looking at this and most have joined.
The beauty of it is the race-to-road transfer of technology that is happening in Formula E.
‘When we are buying electric vehicles next year or in five years’ time, many components of these electric cars will have been developed in Formula E so the world at large will benefit and us as individuals will benefit from it. That is huge and that is why I am proud to be involved.
Formula E takes to London as Brit Sam Bird looks to extend his championship lead
Rosberg will be at the FE race as an ambassador for Heineken and their ‘greener bar concept’
‘How far can it go? F1 remains the pinnacle of motorsports and Formula E is still some way from that. It still has a lot of further room to grow, it is still a young sport, but as they develop more superstar drivers, they will gain even greater global recognition.’
Rosberg is also involved in this weekend’s race as an ambassador for Heineken and their greener bar concept, which was devised to demonstrate what is possible through embracing sustainable technology.
‘I have always asked Heineken if I could be more involved in their push for more sustainability because I have been dedicated to that since retiring from Formula One, but of course it takes time to develop.
‘The Red Bull F1 racing team was also involved in collaborating with Heineken in the technology for the greener bar and it is cool how F1 can have a role in supporting brands with their innovations to make their products or bars greener and more sustainable.
‘It is essential and this is what makes me so optimistic we are going to hit our climate targets because brands like Heineken are now embracing the need to make their business models more sustainable.’