Juan Pablo Montoya fires shots at both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, shake hands post-qualifying. Hungary, July 2023.

Max Verstappen is not a better driver today than he was two years ago and Lewis Hamilton’s complaints about Red Bull’s advantage are ironic given Mercedes’ past success.

That’s the opinion of former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who believes both Verstappen and Hamilton’s success shows how important it is to be in the “best car” on the grid.

After seven years of Mercedes dominance, Formula 1 is now in the era of Red Bull and, more notably, Max Verstappen with the Dutchman well on his way to his third successive World title and breaking records along the way.

Juan Pablo Montoya: For now Max Verstappen has the ‘best car’ on the grid

Last season he set a new benchmark for the most wins in a single season, 15, and for overturning the biggest deficit to win a World title. This year he’s already helped Red Bull break McLaren’s 1988 record for the most successive wins, which was 11 with Red Bull up to 13, with the team on course for a season’s whitewash having bagged 12 from 12.

But while Montoya accepts the Dutchman is doing a “great job” with Red Bull, his performances are being aided by sitting in the “best car” on the grid.

“Verstappen is doing a great job at the moment,” FormulaPassion.It quotes him as having told Semana. “He seems invincible like when Hamilton won everything, this is the reality.

“Max is a very good driver, but for now he has the best car. Verstappen’s speed right now is no higher than it was two years ago, it’s probably the same. Only that the car is much faster.”

The seven-time grand prix winner reckons there are “seven or eight drivers” on today’s grid who could win a World title if they were to replace Verstappen – even Sergio Perez.

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“In place of Max, there are about seven or eight drivers who could be World Champions with Red Bull. For example Perez, Hamilton, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris would be World Champions,” he said.

“It’s clear that if you’re not a good driver it becomes difficult because the better you are, the more chance you have of being in a good team. Norris, for example, is a very good driver and McLaren has improved a lot this year, but Lando would probably be World Champion in Red Bull.”

Juan Pablo Montoya scoffs at Lewis Hamilton’s ongoing complaints

The Colombian also didn’t hold back when it came to Hamilton, the driver that Verstappen beat to the 2021 World title.

Hamilton has said several times this season Mercedes never had it as good as Red Bull with comments such as “when we were fast, we weren’t that fast” and that “even when we were dominant, we had close battles”.

Montoya says that’s not true, and that Hamilton’s success shows once again the value of being in the “best car” on the grid.

“It’s always very nice to complain when you don’t win, but when Lewis won he said that the car didn’t give him any advantage,” said the 47-year-old. “Actually Mercedes’ advantage was as big as what Red Bull currently has.

“I don’t want to say that Hamilton isn’t good, on the contrary, he is a great driver. But the reality of this sport is that you have to be in the best car.”

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