Lewis Hamilton’s dig at Max Verstappen’s ‘unfulfilling’ World titles

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen shake hands after the race. Canada June 2023

Third placed Lewis Hamilton and race winner Max Verstappen shake hands after the race. Canada June 2023

With Max Verstappen cruising to a third World title without a challenger in sight, Lewis Hamilton has stated his most fulfilling championships where the ones in which he had competition.

Having won seven World titles, six in the space of just seven seasons with Mercedes, Hamilton lost the crown to Verstappen in 2021 in what was a tension-fraught title race that went down to the wire.

Since then Verstappen has dominated the Formula 1 circus, winning a record-breaking 15 grands prix last season on his way to title number two, while this year his stats stand at seven from nine with the Dutchman holding an 81-point lead in the standings.

Lewis Hamilton dreaming of close racing in F1

It’s fair to say he is well on his way to a third championship as no driver in Formula 1 history has ever overturned such a deficit with Verstappen’s 46 points after three races last season the biggest on record.

Hamilton, though, can’t see how that can be fulfilling with the Briton conceding that while periods of dominance are par for the course, his most memorable titles were the ones he had to fight for.

Ultimately that’s the issue for a long time within our sport, there was always large chunks of dominance,” the 38-year-old told Jennie Gow on the BBC Radio 5 Live Chequered Flag podcast.

“I had it and I was really, really fortunate to have it here with this team. Michael [Schumacher] had it, Seb [Vettel] had it, now it’s Max’s period.

“There’s no telling how long that will be, whether we get the car on track and fight them back next year or whether Ferrari can, or whether it will be us next, or Ferrari next, or Red Bull next.

“When we were dominant, the best years were when we were fighting when we had the close battle with Red Bull, when we had the close battle with Ferrari.

“On some of the other times when the gap was a little bit bigger, that wasn’t really the most fulfilling period of time. But there’s nothing we could do about, we just did a better job and that’s where Max is.

“Ultimately, him and his team have just done a better job than everyone else and you cannot take it away from them.”

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Hamilton, who recently called on the FIA to impose a 1 August date as the earliest in which teams can begin working on the following year’s challengers, says Formula 1 needs to take action to close the gaps between the teams.

“As a sport we have to have a conversation about how we can set it up to be better for the future, so we have tighter races, if possible the pack is closer, and we have close battles between a Red Bull and a Ferrari and a Mercedes and an Aston. That would be epic,” he said.

“So that’s my dream because I grew up racing karts and it was wheel-to-wheel close battling.

“I don’t dream of having a dominant period ever again for myself, winning multiple championships in a row. The hope is that you would be in the battle at least, in amongst God knows how many.”

For now, though, that’s not the case with Mercedes and the rest of the field lagging behind Red Bull who have won nine from nine to sit 199 points ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.

Hamilton says he’s working to help the Brackley squad negate that deficit in what has been two “character building” years.

“Whenever you start the season you go in with the mentality of we’re going to fight for the championship and then you get to the first test and that’s where you find out where the chips lie. And then you have to recalibrate your goals,” he said.

“For us really it’s developing, it’s pulling together as a team, it’s trying to be a better team-mate, and whether I can steer this ship back to winning ways.”

He added: “These are the years that really, really build us. So, it’s been character building last year and this year.

“What I’m preparing myself for is when they finally get the car together. When we do, I’ll be ready. That’s what I’m trying to prepare myself for.”

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