Lewis Hamilton discloses ‘risky choices’ he has to make compared to Max Verstappen

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen share the podium in Spain. June 2023

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen share the podium in Spain.

Lewis Hamilton has compared his current situation driving the Mercedes W14 compared to Max Verstappen in the Red Bull RB19.

In an ideal F1 world, Hamilton and Verstappen would be battling for race wins and the title in F1 2023 but that has ultimately failed to materialise.

Red Bull’s development path has certainly been a lot smoother than Mercedes’ since the regulations overhaul ahead of the F1 2022 campaign, with Max Verstappen and Red Bull enjoying a dominant spell that Hamilton has experienced many times during his legendary F1 career.

One of the big talking points at the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend is whether Mercedes can confirm their positive development step at a track which has notable differences compared to Barcelona, the location of Mercedes’ first double podium of the season.

But, before we find out the answer to that question, Hamilton has given fans a unique insight into how his and Verstappen’s approaches to each F1 race weekend are differing wildly due to the respective cars that they have at their disposal.

“Once you get on top of the car and the car works in this window, and it’s consistent, it’s much easier to get it into that setup,” Hamilton said, as quoted by Sky Sports.

“When you are with a car like I have, for example, you’re trying everything, every different setup and combination to try and eke out a little bit more performance.

“But when you have performance in hand, you are not necessarily always having to make risky choices throughout practice in order to get that extra half a tenth.

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He continued: “You don’t have to push the bodywork as tight as possible, put the engine on the rim of the temperature because you have a little bit of breathing space.

“Then you don’t have to push the tyres as hard, so you can lift and coast a little bit more, which ultimately means longer stints. All these different things compound and the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

“But you still have a job to deliver, you still have to be focused and still can’t make mistakes, still have to make the right decisions and that comes with a lot of pressure.”

Lewis Hamilton’s mentality is still strong

Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen has suggested that Hamilton’s head isn’t “100% in racing anymore”, yet Hamilton’s comments about how he approaches F1 weekends doesn’t confirm that theory.

With no F1 win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, it would be easy to reach the conclusion that Hamilton is getting increasingly frustrated the longer the drought goes on.

However, Hamilton is enjoying the challenge that has been presented to him and is still as determined as ever to get the most out of every session he competes in.

He added: “For me, it was easy just to stay focused on the job in hand and focus on the things I can control and making sure the team is consistently pushing forward.

“I never got tired of it or comfortable. It’s a great feeling when you know you have got a car you can compete with. From our perspective, we know we are not fighting for a win, so it’s arriving hopeful that you can find a little bit of magic in the weekend.

“Every small decision, every position that you get in qualifying makes that difference and I would say I’ve been enjoying this more, for the short term.”

Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the F1 2023 season, but all the signs suggest that the seven-time World Champion will extend his stay on with the Silver Arrows despite persistent links to Ferrari emerging this year.