(Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton’s comments about Formula One rival Max Verstappen suggest the Dutch driver is beginning to get to the seven-times world champion, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on Thursday.
The sport’s most successful driver of all time, with 100 pole positions and 98 wins, suggested at the Monaco Grand Prix that, unlike him, Verstappen “feels perhaps he has a lot to prove”.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, Hamilton’s closest challenger, said he had nothing to prove.
“Lewis loves all that rubbish,” Horner told Sky Sports television when asked about any mind games that might be being played.
“Max does his own thing, he’s his own man. The fact that Lewis feels he needs to do that means that actually Max is probably getting under his skin a little.”
Hamilton is 14 points clear of Verstappen after winning three of four races. The Dutch youngster has won the other and finished second three times, with the pair going wheel to wheel in every round.
“We’re only at the beginning of the championship,” said Horner. “Can you imagine what it will be like if they are that close going into the last few races?.”
Horner also enjoyed making a few digs at Hamilton’s team boss Toto Wolff.
The Austrian had said earlier that Mercedes, 29 points clear of Red Bull, were already 90% focused on next year’s championship and major rule changes.
He has also pointed a finger at Red Bull in a controversy over “bendy” rear wings and their recruiting of Mercedes’ engine staff as they prepare to build their own power units after Honda’s exit at the end of the year.
“I think Toto’s more focused on our rear wing than he is on next year at the moment,” said Horner.
“I don’t know what’s going on in their business. Toto knows what’s going on in everybody’s business.”
Horner said he would be surprised if Mercedes had really switched so much focus to 2022, given the intensity of the championship battle.
“Can Mercedes afford just to turn everything off? you’d be a very brave person to do that after four races,” he added.
The Briton joked also that he would be spending Friday’s rest day “looking at and studying article 3.8 to try and understand it”.
The article in the technical regulations relates to components influencing aerodynamic performance.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)
Hamilton and Mercedes give outgoing Bottas an exciting ‘little’ parting gift
After replacing retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017, Valterri Bottas has had a rather successful five seasons and though he didn’t manage any championship triumph, the Finn has a good number of wins to his name, most of which came in handy for the team.
Before the end of last season though, he was confirmed to race for Alfa Romeo onwards, while 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion, George Russell would leave Williams to form an all-British Mercedes team with seven-time champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Before his departure, his previous family (Mercedes) went all out to give him a parting gift, and their choice isn’t what most of us would have thought.
While they would have thought of anything else, they went for something that perhaps meant more for both sides, his first Mercedes winning car.
“They had a little surprise when I came to the factory on the last day,” said the 33-year old about the not so ‘little’ surprise. “…my first winning car in 2017,” revealed Bottas on his podcast.
The 2021 championships 2nd runners-up takes a step forward as a leader in his current team from his previous supportive role and Alfa Romeo will be counting on his experience with the current constructors’ champions to improve on their last season’s 9th place.
Hopefully, having his first win’s car from his former team will push him towards a better performance.
Will the FIA’s decision on Masi stand well with Mercedes and Hamilton?
After a controversial end to the 2021 season that saw Max Verstappen clinch his first F1 title, many have criticized race director Michael Masi for allegedly “snatching” the title from Hamilton and “handing” it over to Verstappen.
Some, if not many, believe that Masi’s decision to restart the race on the last lap was a deliberate move to deny Hamilton the win in a race he had led from lap one. Mercedes were obviously pissed off by the result, which denied their leading driver a possible record eighth championship title.
According to reports, Mercedes wants Masi gone before the 2022 season gets underway, but nothing has been decided yet about the 44-year-old. According to the Daily Mail, some believe that Masi should stay, but others think that if he does, the reputation of F1 will be jeopardized.
As per reports, Mercedes and F1 held friendly talks over the issue but didn’t reach a unanimous decision. However, the sporting body has allegedly decided that Masi will stay, which will be to Mercedes and Hamilton’s disappointment and anger.
Hamilton hasn’t disclosed whether he will participate in this coming F1 season, and if Michael stays, the chances of the 36-year old’s return to the track might probably be further minimized. “I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” stated Brown, McLaren’s CEO, who urged the sport not to ignore Lewis’ frustration or anger.
With nothing decided for certain, though, everyone, especially the involved parties, can only wait, fingers crossed that what is settled in the end benefits both sides. There’s hope of that happening if the new FIA president is as diligent as Brown described. “…I believe he will be a change agent…,” Brown assured.
Hamilton thinks rating who is best will be easy if he and Max drove the same car
Whether it will be a record eighth title for Hamilton, or a brilliant second for Verstappen, is still unclear, and so is the answer to who is the best driver between the two.
After an exciting and perhaps controversial 2021 season, F1 will usher in an anticipated 2022 as the two leading drivers and current biggest rivals take to their wheels for another title race.
After a brilliant 14-year F1 career and four consecutive titles (2017–2020), one would go for Hamilton, but some think he has the advantage of a better car.
The comparison goes way back, and in 2019, Lewis thought of the simplest solution to this argument: having Verstappen drive the same car. “I see stories that we have different cars and that’s the only way I beat him, so that would give me the opportunity to show that is not the case.”
Mercedes have dominated F1 for close to ten years, with Red Bull seeming content as runners-up most of that time, but last year saw a different outcome as the latter made it clear they were out to end their rival’s dominance.
The 36-year old’s suggestion is unlikely to take root though, as Verstappen is contracted to RedBull for at least another two seasons, while Mercedes has already signed a new teammate for the 7-time champion.
That leaves the field open for all to see and judge. Hopefully, they (Hamilton and Verstappen) make the next few seasons where they’ll compete as exciting as they have been, from which everyone will judge who to crown king.
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