Max Verstappen is not just romping away with the 2023 world championship he is destroying Formula One records many of which have stood for decades. Yet Lewis Hamilton is unimpressed with the feats of the current world champion suggesting he is no better than a number of other drivers who have raced over the past twenty years.
Further the former world champion claims Verstappen has never been tested by his team mates in the fashion that Hamilton has experienced during his winning years.
Verstappen crushed team mates
Hamilton has of course only ever been beaten by his team mate on three occasions during his seventeen year career in the sport. The British driver also was tied on points with his world championship team mate Fernando Alonso in his rookie year back in 2007.
Max Verstappen’s first full season in F1 was driving for Toro Rosso in 2015. His more experienced team mate was Carlos Sainz struggled to match Verstappen’s pace scoring just 18 points to Max’s 49.
The Dutch driver was promoted to Red Bull alongside Daniel Ricciardo for race 6 in 2016 but came up short of the Australian’s season tally by 52 points.
Ricciardo again beat Verstappen during 2017 though in their final year together the positions were reversed the following year with Max finishing on top.
Max closing in on Hamilton records
Since then Verstappen has had a number of team mates including Pierre Gasly, Daniel Kvyat, Alex Albon and now Sergio Perez. In each and every year from 2019 onwards the world champion has finished ahead of whoever Red Bull have put up against him.
This weekend in Monza will in all probability see Verstappen claim the record for the most consecutive victories ever in Formula One beating both Sebastian Vettel and Alberto Ascari’s score of nine in a row.
The Dutch driver is racking up a host of other records this year and is closing in on a number of Hamilton’s personal bests. Of course Lewis 103 wins over seventeen years is something out of reach of Max at present simply due to the fact he’s competed in F1 events only around half the number of times of his Mercedes rival.
However despite the eight years of Mercedes’ dominance, Verstappen is closing in on a key statistic held by lewis Hamilton in terms of the ratio of wins to F1 starts. In less than a year even if Max wins just half of the races one offer he will be ahead of Hamilton’s win percentage of 31.89%.
Hamilton “unimpressed” by Verstappen plaudits
Despite Verstappen only losing twice in one years to a team mate and the F1 records he is smashing, Lewis Hamilton is no more impressed with the Dutch driver than he has been with a host of other of his contemporaries.
“I’m no more impressed than I was when Michael was leading, when Sebastian was leading, when kimmo was driving, when Fernando was winning,” said Hamilton in Monza.
The British driver adds that the Red Bull team are at their best and this is assisting Max to achieve his dominant form.
“I think the [Red Bull] team as w hole was one of the strongest…. They’re firing on all cylinders right now. The car is incredible, the driver’s doing an amazing job – very consistent,” adds Lewis.
“The pit crew are doing a great job, the mechanics are doing a good job, strategy is doing a good job like on point – you can’t fault them.”
Lewis claims his team mates better than Verstappen’s
Yet in words described by Martin Brundle as “harsh” Hamilton is dismissive of the challenge his arch rival has faced from the team mates Red Bull have put up against him.
“In my personnel opinion Valtteri – in fact all my team mates have been stronger than the team mates that Max has had,” Hamilton boldly claims
“Jenson, Fernando, George, Valterri… Nico… I’ve had so many. I mean these guys are all very very strong and consistent. Max has not raced against anyone like that,” insisted the ex F1 world champion.
Ex-Formula One driver and Sky F1 expert commentator Martin Brundle firmly rebuts Lewis’ opinion but suggests his harsh words are designed to play mind games with Max.
Brundle calls Lewis statement ‘harsh words’
“That’s Lewis opinion and he very firmly put it out there. He’s not going to give Max an ounce of oxygen is he or anything to big him up,” Brundle noted.
“I’m surprised just how hard he was,” cautioned Brundle who drove alongside Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen during his racing career.
“Of course Lewis has had some strong team mates, but I wouldn’t write off the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez who Max has had alongside him either. They’re world class racing drivers but Lewis just doesn’t want to give anything away does he?”
Brundle who never won a Formula One race in a career lasting well over a decade revealed how difficult it is to maintain the mental toughness to stay ahead.
Verstappen “exceptional” says Brundle
“I gave blood sweat and tears and total commitment over 158 Grand Prix and only ever finished second and third. I never won.
“And so many drivers like me put so much into it. To win at the rate Lewis has done – 103 victories – and the rate that Max is doing now – to keep the mental aspect of that going week in week out – different tracks different weather conditions is extra-ordinary.”
Firmly in opposition to Hamilton’s statements Brundle claims Verstappen is delivering at an exceptional level whoever is alongside him at Red Bull.
“You can’t be anything other than incredibly impressed with what Verstappen is doing.”
Hamilton fails in contract aims
Brundle believes Sergio Perez is a top driver amongst the current crop and believes the gap between him and Verstappen is a mark of the Dutchman’s genius.
“You have to look at how many points has Perez scored during that time,” concluded Brundle.
Hamilton has just signed a two year extension to his Mercedes contract, but failed to claim a number of demands his management team had set out in February.
Lewis will not be a Mercedes brand ambassador for ten years and his multi-year five year career ending deal was cut short to just another two seasons.
Lewis Hamilton's win at Interlagos in 2021 was truly something else! 🤯
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 31, 2023