Damon Hill: Lewis Hamilton beats Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso in one key area

Henry Valantine
Race winner Max Verstappen on the press conference couch with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Canada June 2023

Race winner Max Verstappen on the press conference couch with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Canada June 2023

Damon Hill has highlighted Lewis Hamilton as holding the best racecraft of the three multiple World Champions on the current Formula 1 grid.

Hamilton made it onto the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix alongside Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso last weekend, the second time this season the three multiple champions joined each other in the top three.

Red Bull chief technology officer Adrian Newey also went onto the podium to celebrate his 200th career race victory, and the 100th with Red Bull, in one of the most decorated Formula 1 podiums in the history of the sport.

When engaged in a discussion about the comparisons to currently be made between the three drivers, 1996 World Champion Hill believed Verstappen to have the most outright pace due to his willingness to go into a “danger zone” with his speed, while Alonso has the most awareness of what is around him.

But when it comes to the approach that drivers take to racing and how that translates into on-track results, Hill believes the Mercedes driver currently edges clear of his rivals in that regard.

“I think it’s Lewis,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast when asked which of the three World Champions on the grid has the best racecraft.

Podcast host Tom Clarkson disagreed and believes it to be Alonso, referencing a move he made in the French Grand Prix to deliberately slow down in order to make the air dirty for the car behind and make their tyres degrade faster.

But in explaining his rationale behind choosing Hamilton, Hill elaborated: “Lewis probably works with his engineers very effectively, whereas Fernando can probably do it without his engineers, or he tells the engineers what to do, rather than the other way around – and he manages to fit in a few sort of clever comments in the process as well, while he’s got other things to do.

“I take your point about Fernando and racecraft, but I’m just going to go back to Lewis again.

“I think the thing is with Lewis is that in a race, he’s able to produce stunning laps when he needs to, I don’t know Fernando’s still got that ability to do that.

“So if you say to Lewis ‘we’ve got a target and this is it’, he manages to pull it out somehow.”

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When taking all the comparison points into a rounded view of how well the drivers are performing overall at the moment, Hill backed the reigning World Champion and current championship leader to be the one to put his money on at the moment.

“I think if you’re going to do this comparing drivers, you have to say, ‘okay, we haven’t seen the full extent of Max’s career’, not that I have any doubts about it at all,” Hill explained.

“But you know, we’ve seen what Fernando can do over many years, nearly decades, and Lewis as well.

“So when you try and compare drivers like this, you have to say currently where we’re at, you’d put your money on Max, wouldn’t you? Because he seems to have all the ingredients and he’s got a bright future ahead of him.

“Whereas the others are, whichever way you cut it, they’re past the middle of their career, they’ve done the bulk of their work and so they’re slightly different characters or in a different phase of their of their development. But yeah, Max has got it.”