Lewis Hamilton is not a happy chap. Having finally announced his shiny new contract with Mercedes for another two years in Monza he decided to go on the attack and rubbish the quality of team mate Max Verstappen has faced in his career.
“In my personal opinion, Valtteri [Bottas], and actually all my team-mates, have been stronger than the team-mates that Max has had,” Hamilton told assembled reporters during a strange press briefing.
Schumacher team mate calls out Hamilton
Lewis has since received almost universal criticism for his comments with Jenson Button claiming this week that he would fear Verstappen more as a team mate in the same machinery than he would Hamilton.
Button explains Verstappen is a car designers dream driver because Adrian Newey can focus on producing the fastest car possible and Verstappen will adapt his driving style to exploit the potential of his equipment.
Hamilton appears to have opened a can of worms with his bizarre criticism of Verstappen as now the team mate of one of the greatest F1 drivers ever joins chorus commentators questioning Lewis’ opinion.
Gerhard Berger who drove for the legendary Ferrari winning ten Grand Prix believes that neitherMichael Schumacher nor Lewis Hamilton are the best rivers Formula One from the last 50 years.
Verstappen and Senna “best two”
Hamilton and Schumacher both hold the record of 7 drivers’ titles, although Hamilton has better statistics in terms of race wins and pole positions given during his career the seasons have included an increased number of race events.
Berger argues that both Ayrton Senna and Max Verstappen are the best he’s ever seen despite Senna just winning 3 world championships and Verstappen being set to claim his third soon.
Senna won 41 Grand Prix and claimed 65 pole positions before his untimely death in a Williams car during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
“Verstappen and Senna are unique in the business. They are the two best I have seen in the last 50 years,” he told Austrian newspaper Kroner Zeitung.
Verstappen creating F1 history
“Schumacher and Hamilton are also exceptional drivers. Of course, you should always look at the statistics, they are both fantastic
“But Senna died early, and Verstappen is still young.”
Hamilton is 13 years the senior of Verstappen and Berger believes it is more than just conceivable in that time Max will beat most if not all of Hamilton’s records.
In Monza, Verstappen broke Albert Ascari and Sebastian Vettel’s jointly held record of 9 consecutive F1 wins which demonstrates his utter dominance this seasons. In the sister Red Bull car Sergio Perez has struggled to stay ahead of the rest of the drivers despite the superiority Max is finding from the same machinery.
Max v Lewis stats very close
When compared to Hamilton on a range of data, Verstappen already stacks up favourably. When both drivers have been classified, Hamilton has an average finishing position of 3.53 while Max is climbing quickly and currently stands at 3.95.
When looking at the average qualifying position Verstappen is also closing in on Hamilton’s 3.9 with his current average at 5.22.
Verstappen completed his 47th race victory in Monza and by the season close he could stand third in the all time list ahead of Sebastian Vettel who is on 53 wins.
Over the last quarter of a century, Formula One has moved into a phase where a dominant team emerges and stays ahead of the rest for a considerable time. 20 of the last 25 constructor championships have been won by just three teams in Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.
F1 in a 25 year era of dominance
Mercedes of course claimed their incredible record of 8 consecutive titles in 2021 (and 8 in total) but by the end of this year Red Bull will have closed the gap between their arch rivals down to just a difference of two.
Whilst behind Verstappen the competition is fierce in Formula One it is unlikely that even the might of Mercedes can close the current half a second a lap gap to the world champions even should they ace the design of the 2024 W14.
Whether Verstappen faces Perez or any one else next season, his complete and utter superiority appears to be set in and the records will keep on tumbling.
Max current contract extends until 2028 but should he continue into Formula One into his 30’s he will easily chase down and beat the number of victories both Hamilton and Schumacher have achieved.
Hamilton ‘yesterdays man’
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton looks on the way to becoming ‘yesterdays man’ without a win since the race in Brazil back in 2021.
Further Mercedes ‘have no clue’ on how to deliver a consistent race car according to former Ferrari boss Peter Windsor.
“They seem to have a clue on how to get more downforce into the car or more downforce out of the car – but do they really know how to run the ride heights at any given circuit given the parameters of some of the weekends with the sprint race?
“And do they really know what sort of active-ride rate to have on the springs at the front of the rear if they’re trying to get one softer than the other? Do they really know how to build kerb strike into a car that’s got a perfect setup?
Mercedes groping in the dark
“Do they know all that? I don’t think they do.
“I don’t think Mercedes have that, because if they did by now they would have put it together, I think, and they’re so up and down,” said Windsor this week.
He also attacks the well worn excuse trotted out by the team’s drivers and boss that their car has a very small operating window
“The way they describe it is: ‘Well, we have a very small operating window’ – but what does that mean?
Hamilton risks becoming merely disgruntled
“If Red Bull have an enormous operating window, and Mercedes have a tiny operating window, somebody there’s not doing a very good job, that’s all you can say.”
The harsh reality is that in just another 2-3 seasons Verstappen could in fact be breaking Lewis all time records as the British driver comes to negotiate another Mercedes contract.
Can Hamilton do a Samson and rise once more to bring down the house, or will he just become more disgruntled and loose much of the public admiration he has built over the past decade?