Red Bull boss Christian Horner pointed out to Lewis Hamilton that it is not just about competing with your team-mate after he questioned the standard of drivers which Max Verstappen has partnered.
Verstappen is very much wiping the floor with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in a dominant campaign for the team, claiming 11 of their 13 grand prix victories so far as the team continue to march through F1 2023 undefeated.
Perez then follows Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon before him in struggling to contend with the standard set by Verstappen, who by this stage has developed the reputation of being the ultimate Formula 1 team-mate killer.
Lewis Hamilton questions Max Verstappen’s team-mate quality
However, Hamilton is not convinced on the ability of the drivers who have gone toe-to-toe with Verstappen at Red Bull, arguing that during his career, which included spearheading the era of Mercedes, he has had to test himself alongside team-mates of a higher standard than Verstappen has experienced.
“In my personal opinion, all my team-mates have been stronger than the team-mates Max has had: Jenson [Button], Fernando [Alonso], George [Russell], Valtteri [Bottas], Nico [Rosberg],” Hamilton told Sky F1.
“I’ve had so many. These guys have all been very, very strong, very consistent – and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
Horner then was given the chance by the broadcaster to respond to these Hamilton comments.
“He’s had several team-mates, obviously he’s always had the upper hand on his team-mates,” said Horner of Verstappen.
“But it’s not just been about competing against team-mates, it’s about competing against the rest of the field as well.
“And I think that Max has clearly demonstrated what he’s capable of. And indeed, some drivers might not even want to drive alongside him!”
While Hamilton did also dish out high praise for what Verstappen and Red Bull have achieved, with the prospect of delivering the first undefeated Formula 1 season remaining very much on, he also said this fresh example of F1 dominance does not wow him any more than previous cases.
The Michael Schumacher era with Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull were both examples Hamilton referenced.
Horner said this was a strange claim for Hamilton to make, considering it was the Hamilton and Mercedes era of dominance which Verstappen ended in 2021, though Horner switched focus to Hamilton’s new Mercedes deal, committing him to the team until the end of 2025, predicting that more Hamilton-Verstappen battles wait ahead.
“It’s quite a strange thing for Lewis to be saying after seven years of domination!” Horner stated.
“But on a positive note, it’s great to see that he’s signed up for another couple of years. Obviously he’s still motivated, he’s still fit enough for the challenge and I’m sure there’ll be a few battles between him and Max in the next couple of years.”
Verstappen is now well on his way to World title number three, his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship over Perez standing at 138 points.