While dishing out high praise for both drivers, ex-Red Bull racer David Coulthard cannot agree with Lewis Hamilton’s assessment that he has faced stronger team-mates than Max Verstappen.
Hamilton and his Mercedes team are currently plotting a way to return to the title fight against Max Verstappen and Red Bull, having fallen away since the conclusion to their epic 2021 scrap.
Currently this is proving to be a very difficult task though, with Verstappen and Red Bull having since established themselves as the dominant force of Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton’s Max Verstappen claim “not the case”
Verstappen saw off the early-season challenge from team-mate Sergio Perez and has now delivered 10 grand prix victories in a row, toppling the Sebastian Vettel record that had stood since 2013.
Hamilton made the recent suggestion to Sky Italia that Verstappen has not faced the level of team-mates which he has in Formula 1, name-dropping the likes of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Rosberg, plus current team-mate George Russell, as examples.
It is a claim from Hamilton, though, which Coulthard cannot support.
“I know Lewis had made a comment that he [Verstappen] does not have tough team-mates,” said Coulthard in an interview with Formula1.com.
“First of all, that’s not the case, and second of all it’s not actually about who your team-mate is, it’s about who your competitors are, and his biggest competitor so far has been Lewis.
“And they have been unbelievable in the way they have gone wheel-to-wheel, and performed, and really delivered some great results. Whether you are a Mercedes fan, a Ferrari fan, it doesn’t matter.
“This sport brings exceptional drivers. Lewis is an exceptional driver, Fernando is an exceptional driver, Max is an exceptional driver, and this is just the facts.
“And in wait we have Charles [Leclerc], Carlos [Sainz], Lando [Norris], George, and the list goes on. These guys have shown great potential but are yet to win multiple races and championships.”
Max Verstappen long stood out as “someone special”
Having re-wrote the F1 history books by arriving on the grid at only 17 years old, Verstappen is now on the cusp of securing his third World Championship.
And Coulthard believes there has been a “special” feeling surrounding Verstappen since he started out in Formula 1, likening his impact to legendary figures Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
“Max has always stood out through all the lower Formulas,” said Coulthard. “Ever since he arrived in Formula 1 and won his first grand prix – I think even before he was 18 – you know you are watching someone special.
“This was something you could have acknowledged when you saw Michael, Ayrton or any of these guys. What is super impressive is the maturity he has got at 25.”
While Verstappen, who boasts a 145-point Drivers’ Championship lead over Sergio Perez, will look to push further towards the finish line with victory in Singapore this weekend, Red Bull could potentially secure the Constructors’ title if results go their way.