Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen: Ron Dennis issues surprising F1 Drivers' title verdict

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Former McLaren chief Ron Dennis has delivered his verdict on the title race in Formula 1 this year and is backing Max Verstappen and Red Bull to get the job done over his former protégé Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes car.

F1 heads to Russia this weekend for the latest round of this enthralling season, and Hamilton and Verstappen will once again battle it out for supremacy, though the Briton already has an advantage with the Dutchman carrying a three-place grid penalty into this weekend.

Certainly, it's tight at the top with just five points separating the pair right now and it looks set to go to the wire, with it really anyone's guess as to where the championship is going to head come December.

However, Dennis is of the belief that the engineers and improved Honda power unit that Red Bull have at their disposal could prove to be the edge in this particular battle, with him tipping Verstappen to take his first-ever F1 crown.

"I have a tremendous respect for the technologists at Red Bull and I think Honda have stabilised their engine performance very well," Dennis told Sky Sports.

"So I think it's going to be Verstappen. If it's not, it will be not because they lack performance but because they make mistakes.

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"The question is, in what circumstances are these mistakes going to be made? It's going to be a very colourful end of season but I would probably back Verstappen."

Of course, this may surprise some as Dennis is backing against a driver that he has seen through to the sport right from the very beginning in Lewis Hamilton, but he's never been one to let his heart rule his head - that's what you need to spend nearly four decades at the top of motorsport as Dennis did.

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Lewis will be looking to still prove him wrong, though, and one way or another we're set for a dramatic crescendo to this most memorable of campaigns.

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