McLaren boss Zak Brown has quipped that his team needs to be ready to pick up the pieces if Formula 1 title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ever collide this year.
Hamilton and Verstappen have battled on track at all four grands prix held so far this year and have stormed clear of the rest of the field in the standings.
McLaren is the only team outside of Mercedes and Red Bull to have scored a podium this year, courtesy of Lando Norris at Imola, and currently holds third position in the Constructors’ Championship.
Last season AlphaTauri picked up victory at Monza, with Racing Point triumphant at Sakhir, when Mercedes made mistakes while controlling those respective races.
McLaren, meanwhile, has not taken a grand prix victory since the 2012 season finale.
“I think it’s great for F1, I think it’s a great rivalry,” said Brown at the launch of McLaren’s one-off Gulf-themed livery for the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.
“I think Max has got Lewis to step up, not that he needed much stepping up. He’s definitely on his A-Game.
“Lewis is a very smart driver, you can just see him sitting there, waiting to strike, and isn’t overeager, and I think that’s his experience coming through.
“I think rivalries are great in the sport and having those two guys go at it, hopefully at some point over the year might create some opportunity for us. As I think it’s just a matter of time until they are both determined to not let up into Turn 1 and neither come out.
“It’s great. Those guys are both on their A-Game.”
Daniel Ricciardo, who was team-mate to Verstappen at Red Bull Racing from 2016 through 2018, believes the battle has highlighted the ability of both drivers.
“We knew from a long time [ago], this was a matter of time for Max,” he said. “We all know what his talent is like.
“This has been so far the thing where you really start to properly call it…a lot of people are probably tipping their hat to Lewis. He’s getting it dished back at him and he’s holding his ground and showing people who maybe doubted him why he is as good as he is.
“I think it’s going to keep going on. Who will get the best of it? At this stage, you would always stake experience.
“If it was down to the wire, then I think already Lewis has shown some strong signs of that but then again, if there is a gap, Max goes for it – that’s why I respect Max a lot. So….flip a coin!”