Lewis Hamilton is making mistakes for the first time in years due to Max Verstappen and it’s made F1 thrilling to watch

IF there is one thing we have learned from Lewis Hamilton over the years it is that he rarely makes a mistake.

A total of 54 consecutive finishes in the points will tell you that not only does he have reliability on his side, but he is extraordinarily consistent.

Hamilton goes flying off the track on Sunday after a rare mistake

Hamilton could be feeling the pressure of Verstappen's title charge

Hamilton could be feeling the pressure of Verstappen’s title chargeCredit: Getty

But that record came to an end in Sunday’s Azerbaijan GP where a mistake in accidentally pressing the wrong button at the wrong time cost him a shot at the win.

Crucially to note too, this was the second time he had made such a mistake, albeit the last time – at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola – it went largely unnoticed.

But on both occasions, it is fair to say his errors came as a result of the pressure being exerted on him by championship leader, Max Verstappen.

In Baku, it was the “magic” button – the trick device Mercedes use to heat up their tyres and brakes.

Hamilton claims that upon seeing Verstappen out of the race, as he avoided colliding with Sergio Perez he accidentally flicked the switch at the restart that effectively turned his brakes off.

Just moments before he’d radioed his team to tell them it was “a marathon not a sprint” with reference to the title race.

But could the desperation and opportunity to regain top spot in the championship after seeing Verstappen out of the race have actually caused his hurried mistake?

In Imola too there was the uncharacteristic error that saw him slide off track and into the barriers.

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His error went slightly under the radar as the red flag on the following lap allowed his Mercedes team to repair his car and Hamilton to unlap himself.

His excellent recovery drive for second-place would not have materialised had it not been for that red flag after Valtteri Bottas and George Russell collided.

What caused him to go off in the first place was tip-toeing on to the damp line of the drying track but on slick tyres.

Hamilton tried to lap Russell’s Williams by moving on to the damp part at Tosa and ran through the gravel and into the wall.

It was a gamble that backfired but born out of his decision to take a risk to stay within striking distance of race leader Verstappen, who was further ahead.

Had Hamilton been leading the race it would be unlikely that he would try such an overtake on Russell at that point of the track.

The upshot is, we could be seeing mistakes creep into Hamilton’s usually flawless driving as he tries to respond to the threat of Verstappen.

There is no doubt that this season he is being made to work hard for those championship points.

His Mercedes car is by no stretch faultless and he has little in the way of help from team-mate Bottas.

He is on his own in a showdown with Verstappen, which is thrilling to watch, and putting Hamilton under pressure for the first time in years and mistakes are happening.

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