This campaign is set to be the longest in F1 history with a gigantic 23 races penned into the schedule.
Verstappen has never finished in the top three of the Drivers’ Championship and Hamilton has cruised to every title since Nico Rosberg retired following his 2016 triumph.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton has had a key advantage over his rivals in recent years and that could again sway the balance this term.
His Mercedes may not be as quick as Red Bull this time out, but there are other factors that come into play when the going gets tough.
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Hamilton knows he will get any assistance he requires from Bottas should the title race heat up, but Verstappen could be out on his own.