Lewis Hamilton has seen how his initial criticism of Max Verstappen’s F1 dominance “spiralled”, but stands by it, claiming his own dominant streak was a further example of what fans do not want to see.
Red Bull already stormed their way to a title double in 2022, but in F1 2023 their level of dominance over the rest of the pack has grown further still, the Austrian outfit having started the season with 10 wins from 10, plus a pair of sprint victories, as the prospect of going unbeaten for the first time in an F1 campaign remains very much on.
Mercedes meanwhile find themselves in the pack alongside Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren fighting desperately in the development war to become any sort of a threat to Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton claims F1 dominance “not what’s best for the fans”
Hamilton made it clear that he was not pointing the finger at one specific driver and team, claiming his and Mercedes’ dominant streak, which saw Mercedes win eight Constructors’ titles from 2014-21 and Hamilton six Drivers’ crowns, also was not good for the sport.
And now that he sees this brewing again with Verstappen and Red Bull, he says Formula 1 cannot allow it to keep happening for the sake of the fans.
“I saw all the things that that spiralled into,” Hamilton told Channel 4 in reference to his initial criticism of Verstappen’s dominance. “And they’re like ‘you didn’t say anything when you were…’
“The truth is, it’s something we’ve been talking [about], we’d had conversations and we’ve been talking about it even when we were having our dominance.
“I remember when there were times we had really good battles with Ferrari, and then I remember times where we had a chunk of a gap, and for me, that wasn’t really…
“Of course I wanted to be at the front and I wanted to be fighting, but having a half-a-second gap to the car behind, it doesn’t really feel…you wanted to have close racing, that’s what racing is all about.
“So I think they changed the rules, put this budget cap in, it’s supposed to level the field and it hasn’t done that. So, all I’m saying is we just have to continue to have the conversation.
“At the moment, if we keep things the way they are, maybe it’ll be Ferrari next to have several years of dominance and then it will be someone else, maybe McLaren will be or maybe Mercedes will be back and again.
“But I think that’s not what’s best for the fans ultimately. And even if we end up having we’re not getting back to the front end, all I’m talking about is we shouldn’t be able to have dominance for multiple years.
“It’s got to be tough, it’s got to be closer for us all and I think that’s what will make it more exciting for the fans.
“Just from a fan point of view, of growing up watching the grand prix, I don’t think anybody wants to see the period that I had, the period that Michael [Schumacher] had, the period [Sebastian] Vettel had and now Max will be having.”
Lewis Hamilton gives prospective lifespan for Max Verstappen dominance
Other than from his team-mate Sergio Perez, who has won two grands prix this season, Verstappen the other eight, the Dutchman has not faced any sort of threat to victory from a non-Red Bull challenger in F1 2023.
And Hamilton believes that the cost cap and current landscape in Formula 1 could allow this Verstappen domination to continue for another three years.
“There is a chance that Red Bull, with the cost cap and the way it’s set up now, they’re so far ahead that they could dominate for the next three years.” Hamilton predicted.
“And maybe for the Verstappen fans that’s enjoyable, and of course for Max it is, but I’m just saying for our sport we definitely need to have the conversation of how we can try and make it better, bring everyone closer and have more closer duels at the front.”
Lewis Hamilton not out to ‘taint’ Max Verstappen and Red Bull
Re-affirming that his comments were not a knock on Verstappen and Red Bull, Hamilton acknowledged that this partnership has done an “exceptional job”, though went back to his point that while this very much suits Verstappen and Red Bull, the same is not true for the F1 fans.
Put to him that the fans perhaps do not see the bigger picture of this kind of success, Hamilton replied: “The thing is because when you’re actually in it, you’re working as hard as you can and giving it everything.
“And Max and his team have done an exceptional job and they truly deserve the success they’re having, and I’m not trying to taint that at all.
“As I said, it’s just about the conversation and so that we don’t have my period, or Schumacher’s period just continued time and time again.
“We’ve got to continue to make changes and improve as a sport so we have closer battles in the championship, like having that edge of the wire championship battle to the last race is the greatest, it’s amazing.
“And the more teams you have in it, the better it will be. So I hope that we can all work towards that.”
While Hamilton holds the record for most grand prix victories with 103, he has not added to that tally since the penultimate round of the 2021 season.