The seven-time reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team expect Max Verstappen and Red Bull to bounce back and give them an intense test of speed at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the second race of the Formula One season. It has been three weeks since the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton just managed to hold off Max Verstappen to win the epic season opener. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was elated to see Hamilton take the win from Verstappen in the season opener. Nonetheless, Mercedes must still somehow match the superior speed of this season's Red Bull car, Toto said. Toto Wolff acknowledged that the season will not be an easy one as he believes that Mercedes still lacks speed on a single lap compared to the Red Bull that has an edge at the moment. Even though Max Verstappen secured pole by three-tenths in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton's victory not only showcased his speed but his experience and supreme race-management qualities, besides a costly error made by the Dutchman. Hamilton went on to win the 63-lap Emilia Romagna race in 2020 at Imola alongside his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, bringing him closer to win the Drivers Championship. "Nothing changes," said Lewis Hamilton on Thursday as he looks forward to racing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton says that the approach each weekend is the same as in the past. It is exciting to have such a challenge, he adds. Hamilton reportedly said that his rivalry with the former Ferrari and current Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel remains his favourite. Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion, summed up the Bahrain outcome, saying that Max Verstappen was faster but Lewis Hamilton was smarter. Hamilton made it clear last year that he loves the "old school" nature of the Imola circuit and showcased the same on track today with his teammate Valtteri Bottas, as they dominated the difficult FP1 and FP2. With Max Verstappen's incredible performance in FP1, he was right in the fight with Mercedes. However, hit trouble when his driveshaft snapped during FP2, sending him back to the Red Bull garage. AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly set the third-fastest time. Apart from Lewis Hamilton, two-time champion Fernando Alonso has won at Imola previously. Fernando Alonso has returned to Formula One this year, racing for the Alpine-branded Renault team. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix remains eagerly awaited after a three-week-long gap from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
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