In a subtle yet unmistakable display of comparison, Lewis Hamilton, the illustrious Mercedes driver, has drawn parallels between his past co-drivers and the current teammate of championship leader Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez. Hamilton’s words shed light on the considerable gap in strength between Perez and the formidable co-drivers that Hamilton has had the privilege of sharing the track with throughout his illustrious Formula 1 career.
Among the co-drivers Hamilton cited are the likes of Valtteri Bottas, George Russell, Nico Rosberg, and Jenson Button – all distinguished names from the period when Hamilton’s dominance graced the F1 grid. These iconic drivers formed a significant part of Hamilton’s journey, pushing him to his limits and often making their presence felt with their commendable prowess. The underlying message is clear: Hamilton faced fierce competition from his co-drivers during the prime of his career, with each one contributing to the intensity of the battles on the track.
However, the narrative takes a different tone when Hamilton turns his gaze towards Sergio Perez, the co-driver accompanying Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing. Hamilton’s critique is evident as he highlights that Perez falls short of delivering the kind of performance that matches the capabilities of the Red Bull RB19 F1 car. This deficiency in fighting power from within the team seemingly makes Verstappen’s journey at the front of the pack appear considerably smoother, especially when compared to Hamilton’s own experiences.
In an interview with Sky Italia, conducted ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton candidly expressed his thoughts. He emphasized that his level of admiration for Verstappen’s accomplishments isn’t notably higher than the respect he held for the past legends of the F1 world. Hamilton’s words echo with a sense of measured assessment, suggesting that Verstappen’s success may have been amplified beyond necessity.
“I’m no more impressed than I have [been] when Michael [Schumacher] was leading, when Sebastian [Vettel] was leading, when Kimi [Raikkonen] was driving, when Fernando [Alonso] was winning.”
“I think the team as a whole, is one of the strongest, they are firing on all cylinders right now. The car is incredible. The driver is doing an amazing job, very consistent. The pit crew are doing a great job, strategy’s doing a good job and on point. You can’t fault them.”
Hamilton’s viewpoint stems from his belief that Verstappen’s achievements have garnered an undue amount of attention, potentially overshadowing other remarkable feats within the Formula 1 realm. Drawing from his personal experiences, Hamilton aptly notes that accolades should be attributed based on the scale of achievement rather than simply riding the wave of media hype.
“It’s actually interesting because I was running this morning and I was thinking about this.
“The narrative, that goes through the media… you know when I qualified half a second, six tenths ahead of Valtteri, they didn’t say the same thing as they say today when Max qualifies six tenths ahead of Perez – it’s blown up much more.
“In my personal opinion, Valtteri [Bottas], and all of my teammates, have been stronger than the teammates that Max has had.
“Jenson [Button], Fernando, George [Russell], Valtteri, Nico [Rosberg]. I’ve had so many. These guys have all been very, very strong, very consistent and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
Looking ahead, the intriguing dynamics between Hamilton and Verstappen are poised to intensify. Hamilton is contemplating a two-year extension to his contract with Mercedes, a team renowned for its continuous pursuit of excellence. Coupled with the anticipated enhancements in the upcoming W15 F1 car, the stage is set for a riveting rivalry to unfold on the track.