Hamilton and Verstappen appeared to accidentally brush shoulders as they walked past each other in parc ferme during the pole position TV interviews at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
But while the moment did not appear to be the result of deliberate tension between the pair, Jos Verstappen thinks that it offers a glimmer of how things could pan out as the title battle intensifies.
Speaking on an Instagram Live session on Thursday with Dutch Ziggo sport TV presenter Jack van Gelder, Verstappen Sr. said he was relishing their rivalry ahead.
“You don’t know how it will go, of course, but if I look at the shoulder nudge they gave each other after qualifying at Imola, I think we can expect something this year,” said the former grand prix driver.
“They are both men that don’t want to be outdone by the other. Neither of them will let the other push them aside, especially if it will be more and more about the title this season. I think it’s going to be an intense and great year.”
Max Verstappen is in the best position he has ever had to launch a full-on world title challenge, and his father reckons that the situation had its positives and negatives.
He added: “The fact that we can win every single race, in theory, gives more peace of mind I would say, as we know that Max is in the right place at Red Bull. But yeah, at the same time it does bring extra pressure.”
Verstappen Sr. also believes that there was nothing to choose on pace terns between the Red Bull and Mercedes cars, with their form likely to fluctuate depending on track characteristics.
Asked about neither team wanting to be favourite, Jos said: “I think that Red Bull and Mercedes are almost equally matched this year.
“Toto Wolff keeps saying that Red Bull has the better car and Christian Horner in turn says that Mercedes has the better one. But I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
“At every circuit the favourite differs, depending on what suits a particular car. But that creates extra pressure as well.”