The debate about who is the best current Formula One driver strangely continues. Despite smashing records held for decades this season, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are the subject of the eternal debate, ”who is the best?”
Hamilton thought dominant in Mercedes’ cars which won eight consecutive team titles and seven drivers’ championships for some is looking as though his talents are in decline.
Hamilton making mistakes again
A rash move at turn one in Qatar saw the Mercedes driver collide with his own team mate as three into one failed to work for Lewis – though this scenario usually ends in similar fashion.
Meanwhile Verstappen on his own has scored enough points for Red Bull to claim the team championship whilst his team mate Sergio Perez has looked a distant second to the Dutch driver.
Hamilton who was once the F1 undisputed number one driver has been forced to watch on at the genius of his arch rival who he battled with for the world championship until the final layoff the final race in 2021.
F1 team manager believes the British driver is no longer performing at Verstappen’s level and as PlanetF1.com report former Benetton team manager Joan Villadelprat claims, Max Verstappen is so far clear of the rest, that the Red Bull may not even be as dominant a car as one might imagine.
Perez proves how good Max is
It is difficult to argue that Sergio Perez who is considered a decent driver amongst the paddock folk, has been embarrassed by the gain to his team mate driving the same RB19 car.
When asked whiter he considers Hamilton and Verstappen are on a similar level, “No,” said Villadelprat bluntly,
“Lewis is making mistakes,” he added.
“The key thing is we don’t know how good is the Red Bull. Because you can compare the Mercedes car as [George] Russell is good and he’s there with Hamilton. You can’t do that with Red Bull.
“Red Bull is Max and Checo [Perez] is a second behind and he is not a bad driver, he’s a very quick driver!”
Accusations of RB favouritism
It appears the new ground effect car designs the FIA mandated to start in 2022 have thrown up a number of interesting questions. While some drivers complain about the new rule book, there are a number of others who think the F1 philosophy is correct.
The accusation has been repeatedly made this year that Red Bull have designed the historic RB19 to suit Max Verstappen. Further that the car has been developed even further away for the kind of balance Perez would favour.
“Maybe the way that Red Bull has developed the car, maybe the way that Max is asking things, maybe what you do to the car to make Max quicker is completely against what Checo wants,” observed Valladelprart.
Adding to the hypothetical, Villadelprat was asked whether he believes Verstappen would come on top if he and Hamilton were put into the same car.
Hamilton says he’d be closer to match if in same car
Lewis Hamilton made a recent jibe at Checo suggesting were he in an RB19, “[Max] he wouldn’t be getting it all his own way.”
So the BIG F1 question which has been asked over the decades since F1 was formed in 1950, is how can a second driver of a world champion be so poor?
A number of F1 punters have mused over the idea of Hamilton and Verstappen together in the same car would reveal Lewis has not lost his touch. Now F1 driver and team boss suggests otherwise.
“I think, today, yes,” said Villadelprat. “I think today he’s got such confidence.
“The body language, what you see, the way he approaches the weekend, the way he points the car, the way he does the first lap. Because Max, in one lap, he’s there, bam, that’s it.
“That’s his confidence, he’s got the confidence now that he is untouchable, when an F1 driver, a World Champion, gets to that stage, it is very difficult to stop it.”
Lewis had “best engine”
Yet Villadelprat, who also enjoyed stints with Ferrari, McLaren, and Prost during a long career in F1, spoke of his admiration of Hamilton, but said the performances of his teammates relative to how Verstappen’s teammates have performed suggest the Dutch driver is the stronger.
“Hamilton has had moments [where he’s untouchable],” he said.
“I love Hamilton. He has had a very good time with Mercedes, he was lucky enough to get paired with the best engine in the paddock. That was reinforced for a while, it was the most powerful package – not only the chassis, but the engine in particular, and that helped him to win a lot of championships.”
In a surprising dismissal of one of Hamilton’s fiercest team mate rivals who went on to beat the British driver to the 2016 F1 championships, Villadeprat argues Hamilton has never show the kind of dominance that Verstappen is now exhibiting.
Hamilton team mates not “special”
“If you compare [Nico] Rosberg and Hamilton, I didn’t think Rosberg was anything special. Rosberg, and even [Valtteri] Bottas, were sometimes quicker than Hamilton in qualifying, and they weren’t special drivers.
“I don’t see Max has that. His teammate is not even close. And the teammate is not bad, he is as quick as Bottas, as quick as Russell, and as quick as Rosberg. That’s what I think, it’s not even close, so I don’t know how much is the car and how much is Max?”
Verstappen is quickly overhauling many of the F1 records held by the previous generation. One such milestone was the ten consecutive race wins he claimed this year, beating Sebastian Vettel’s record of 9 in a row.
An interesting look at the record books demonstrates Hamilton has never won more than five consecutive Grand Prix, so if Max level is genuinely way above Lewis who is 13 years his senior, then clearly our current Dutch F1 champion will obliterate Hamilton’s achievements by the end of his own career.