Lewis Hamilton analyses Max Verstappen data to come to clear conclusion

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) waves from the podium as Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) looks on at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Max Verstappen waves from the podium as Lewis Hamilton looks on at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton is convinced that Max Verstappen was “just chilling at the front” during the F1 2023 season, claiming the Red Bull driver did not break sweat all year. 

Verstappen eased to his third consecutive World Championship in 2023, setting a new F1 record with 19 victories in 22 races and winning 10 in succession between Miami and Monza.

The Dutchman has won 44 of the last 66 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning campaign in 2021, which ended with Verstappen dethroning Hamilton in highly controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton convinced Max Verstappen is cruising at the front

Hamilton remains without a victory since the penultimate round of 2021 season in Saudi Arabia, having previously managed at least one win in every season of his career since his debut with McLaren in 2007.

Having analysed Verstappen’s data, the Mercedes driver is convinced that his former rival is finding it easy at the head of the field, pointing to their battle in the closing stages of the United States GP as evidence that Verstappen and Red Bull are in a league of their own.

Hamilton finished a close second to Verstappen on the road in Austin, but was later disqualified after his car was found to have suffered excessive plank wear over the course of the 56-lap race. It was claimed that Hamilton’s lower ride height had made him much closer to Verstappen’s pace than he would have been otherwise.

He told the BBC: “You can go through the lap times and some of the data from Max; he is just chilling at the front more often than not. I don’t think he has broken a sweat during the year.

“Even when we were chasing him in Austin, I don’t think he was sweating. I think he was just able to control it.

“And when you are in that position where you have performance and can back off, the car goes further. The tyres go longer and you are in a sweet spot and it is amazing to be in that place.

“Ultimately, [Verstappen and Red Bull] have done an amazing job and worked and deserve it.”

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Following September’s Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton claimed Mercedes require “the greatest six months of development ever” to have any hope of fighting Verstappen and Red Bull for the title in 2024.

The Silver Arrows have been limited to just a single victory over the last two years – taken by Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell in Brazil in November 2022 – having won eight consecutive Constructors’ titles before the introduction of F1’s ground effect rules.

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