‘The only person who can seriously challenge Max Verstappen is Lewis Hamilton’

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen next to Lewis Hamilton. Bahrain March 2022.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen stand alongside each other for the pre-season team photos. Bahrain March 2022.

Anthony Davidson believes the only person who can challenge Max Verstappen for the 2023 title is seven-time former World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

While the pair contested one of the fiercest title battles in recent memory last season, this year it has been a much more one-sided affair with Verstappen’s crown looking certain long before it was mathematically confirmed.

Verstappen has been near untouchable in 2022 but while his title win was mostly down to his own performances, he was helped by the lack of a challenge from Ferrari and Mercedes.

The two are contesting the unwanted honour of being first runner-up, while Red Bull and Verstappen have been offered the luxury of already looking ahead to 2023.

Former racer turned Sky Sports pundit Davidson has been doing similar and predicted of all the drivers on the F1 grid, it is only Hamilton who will be able to give Verstappen a run for his money.

“The only person I can see that can mount a serious challenge is Lewis Hamilton,” the 43-year-old told Sky Sports News.

“[There’s] a handful of names who in my opinion have been the greatest of all time and they only come along once in a while.

“Then it’s great to see that next one come along and they set the benchmark and as one athlete becomes older, the next one comes along.

“But it’s never a given and I don’t know who the next Max Verstappen will be that comes along one day to bring the fight to him.

“But Lewis at the moment, he’s definitely still good enough without question and he’s the only one that can take this fight to Max.

“The problem is, as an older athlete, you start to lose a bit of performance. That hasn’t happened yet with Lewis, but at some point it’s inevitable and that’s the advantage Max has.”

Davidson also said F1 was “cyclical” and plenty of drivers at the top of their game have one day found themselves succeeded.

“It’s a generational thing. I’ve seen this many times in the past in Formula 1,” he said.

“I’ve seen the likes of Ayrton Senna come along, who replaced Alain Prost in that bid to see who was the best driver.

“Then we saw Michael Schumacher come along. He supersedes Senna and Senna got older and Lewis [Hamilton] came along, supersedes Schumacher and now Verstappen comes along.

“It’s not really a fair fight in many ways because Verstappen is 25 years old, almost 10 years younger than Lewis.

“That’s a generational thing. It’s cyclical, and it’s great to see a new talent come along because it doesn’t happen very often.”

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