Johnny Herbert’s ‘devious’ suspicion in Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen F1 dream team outcome

Thomas Maher
Johnny Herbert working at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.

Johnny Herbert believes the victor in a Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen pairing would be down to whoever is more devious.

Johnny Herbert has his thoughts on who might come out on top of a Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen pairing in the same team.

The most mouth-watering driver pairing in current Formula 1 is undoubtedly the prospect of partnering reigning World Champion Max Verstappen with the man he toppled from the top, Lewis Hamilton.

With Hamilton statistically the most successful driver in the history of the sport with 103 Grand Prix wins and seven World Championships – tied with Michael Schumacher’s record – Verstappen’s recent form has him gunning to close in on the heights set by Hamilton.

Johnny Herbert: You can’t control a driver pairing like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

Formula 1 teams rarely take the chance of pairing two established ‘alpha’ drivers together, with the most recent example perhaps being Ferrari choosing to pair Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen together in 2014 – a battle that Alonso won comfortably and led to the shift in perception of Raikkonen that meant his pairing with Vettel from 2015 was less contentious.

While Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s fight in 2016 proved to be dynamite, Rosberg had had to dig deep to rise to the occasion – having been beaten in relatively straightforward fashion over the previous two years.

With Hamilton and Verstappen wrapping up every title between them – apart from Rosberg’s 2016 win – over the last 10 championships, the big question is, of course, which of the duo would come out on top if they were paired up in equal machinery.

For now, that prospect is a pipe dream, with both having contracts for the next couple of years at their current teams. But, over the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, Christian Horner’s reveal of a low-key alleged approach from Anthony Hamilton brought to mind all the questions that a Hamilton/Verstappen pairing at Red Bull would bring.

Three-time Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert mused over the question in an exclusive interview with, comparing the situation to the infamous fight between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren in the late 1980s.

“I think they’re both aware that, to win races but, more importantly, a world championship, and both are after that,” he said in an exclusive interview with, with thanks to Grosvenor Sport.

“One of them especially, to get that eighth World Championship and go ahead of Michael. They’re both wanting to do that.

“Now, the only way you’re able to do that is to be number one. There’s your problem because when it was Senna and Prost, it was a very, very hard thing for Ron Dennis (then McLaren team boss) to be able to control.

“You can’t control it, whatever you try. Even if you stuck them in different rooms for that weekend, you’d still have issues once they get the helmet on and they get on with their race.

“You’re always going to have those incidents that we saw with both of them – once at McLaren, and once at McLaren and Ferrari when Alain had moved on.

“I think it’s the same thing with Lewis and Max, you can’t have those two elite drivers in the same team because you can’t manage it.” recommends

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Johnny Herbert: Whoever is most devious would come out on top

Herbert suspects that Hamilton arriving into Verstappen’s territory at Red Bull would be particularly difficult, as moulding the team to provide equal opportunity would be very difficult given Verstappen’s long history with Red Bull.

“Lewis would be very aware that Christian and everybody – Helmut Marko and the rest of the team, Jonathan Wheatley, etc, etc – their main support is Max, because they know Max will deliver,” he said.

“Now can you do that and split that and make it fair for a Lewis Hamilton? A seven-time World Champion coming into it? It won’t work.

“I think the drivers know it won’t work. One might think he’s probably got the advantage – I would say that’s Max, because Lewis is going into his team, but I don’t think that’s something that would work.

“It would just turn into an uncontrollable ego mess. Who would come out on top? It would just be the one who’s the most devious, I suppose!

“That’s the only way if that was ever allowed to happen!”

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