Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen compared as Ferrari pair questioned – F1 news round-up

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen walks past Lewis Hamilton. Hungary, Budapest July 2023.

Max Verstappen walks past Lewis Hamilton after qualifying at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen can never be kept apart for very long and lead the way in Thursday’s selection of fast-paced F1 news.

The 2021 title rivals have been compared by a member of Verstappen’s former team, with Hamilton dismissed as a mere “brand” compared to the reigning World Champion who eats and sleeps motor racing.

On a day Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were called out be an ex-F1 star, let’s get stuck into today’s main headlines…

Lewis Hamilton dismissed as a ‘brand’ in Max Verstappen comparison

AlphaTauri team manager Graham Watson feels Max Verstappen “single-handedly saved” Formula 1, claiming Lewis Hamilton is a “brand” with a range of interests and not a racing “nerd” like Verstappen.

Verstappen arrived in F1 with AlphaTauri (then Toro Rosso) in an era when Hamilton and Mercedes were dominating but now stands as a three-time World Champion, having won 44 of the last 66 races since the start of maiden title-winning season in 2021.

Hamilton, meanwhile, remains without a race victory since the penultimate round of that season in Saudi Arabia.

Read more: ‘Lewis Hamilton is a brand, Max Verstappen is an F1 driver’

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz holding Ferrari back?

Ralf Schumacher, brother of Ferrari icon and seven-time World Champion Michael, believes the inconsistencies of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz could place a limitation on any 2024 title challenge.

Leclerc and Sainz have established a productive partnership since becoming Ferrari team-mates in 2021, with both expected to extend their stays at Maranello beyond this year.

Yet Schumacher remains yet to be convinced by the pair, claiming both are guilty of making “silly mistakes.”

Read more: ‘Never know what they’ll do’ – Ferrari drivers tipped as F1 2024 title problem

Ford offer glimpse into Red Bull 2026 preparations

Ford CEO Jim Farley is very confident about the F1 2026 power unit that the US automotive giant and Red Bull will produce as they prepare to ride “first class to the very top of the podium.”

Ford will return to F1 in a technical partnership for F1’s next rules reset in 2026 as Honda, Red Bull’s current engine partners, switch to Aston Martin.

Farley provided an update on the 2026 plans at Ford’s 2024 motorsport season launch.

Read more: Revealed: Ford set very early target for ‘top notch’ Red Bull F1 2026 engine

James Allison extends Mercedes deal as 2024 fightback looms

Mercedes’ James Allison has signed a long-term contract extension to remain as technical director following his return to the fold last year.

Allison joined the team in 2017, overseeing a period of success culminating in four Drivers’ titles and five consecutive Constructors’ Championships before becoming chief technical officer with a wider remit including working on Mercedes co-owner INEOS’ Britannia America’s Cup project.

But the struggles with the ground effect regulations saw Allison return to his former role in April last year and he has led the team’s focus on the new W15.

Read more: Mercedes chief signs new multi-year deal in boost ahead of F1 2024 season

Haas boss avoiding Guenther Steiner comparisons

Ayao Komatsu has insisted he is “not trying to be Guenther Steiner” after replacing the F1 fan favourite as Haas team principal last week.

Haas announced last Wednesday that Steiner had parted company with the team, with Komatsu’s promotion to team boss confirmed in the same statement.

With owner Gene Haas claiming the team are in need of an engineering mentality following Steiner’s exit, rookie team boss Komatsu is adamant he has no interest in replicating his predecessor’s approach.

Read more: New Haas boss ‘not trying to be Guenther Steiner’ as ethos change strengthens