Marko: Hamilton can’t sustain this level much longer

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton with his hand on his heart. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Lewis Hamilton with his hand on his heart. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Helmut Marko thinks Lewis Hamilton is at the absolute peak of his powers as an F1 driver – but cannot remain there much longer.

Hamilton would, by general consensus, have been an entirely deserving winner of a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ World Championship in 2021 had he not been denied it by some controversial officiating by Michael Masi in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Those contentious decisions have subsequently cost the Formula 1 race director his job.

The beneficiary, of course, was Max Verstappen, whom Marko has helped to nurture in his role as Red Bull’s driver development boss ever since deciding the Dutchman was ready for his grand prix debut with Toro Rosso as a 17-year-old in 2015.

Now 24, Verstappen is the World Champion, but is sure to face a powerful challenge in 2022 from Hamilton, who has all the motivation he needs to try and wrest back the crown following the deeply unsatisfactory finale at Yas Marina.

Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen. Abu Dhabi December 2021.
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen on winning the 2021 World Championship. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

However, the Mercedes driver turned 37 in January and inevitably there will at some point be a natural descent from the extraordinary heights he has reached as a racer.

Marko feels that is set to happen sooner rather than later.

“Hamilton delivered an incredible second half of the season,” said the 78-year-old during an interview with the OE24 website in his native country.

“I can hardly imagine he can drive at this level for much longer. He’s at his zenith now, age is slowly coming into play.”

In contrast, says Marko, the 13-year age difference between the Briton and the man who has become his arch-rival means Verstappen is still climbing the mountain.

“He’s World Champion now and he will get stronger,” was Marko’s assessment.


Marko revealed he personally had, during the winter, been involved in one of his favourite activities, “spending a lot of time working in the forest”, which he has previously said helps him physically and also to clear his mind of motorsport matters for a few hours.

Now his attention is on Red Bull’s pre-season preparations, with the first half of their on-track running with the new RB18 about to conclude in Barcelona.

“I’m already focused on the test drives again,” said Marko. “Only after that can I say where we stand.

“We have such a gigantic change in regulations that it’s hard to get a real impression because of the simulation.”


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