Why Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton in equal cars pinpointed by ex-F1 team boss

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on track in Qatar.

A former F1 team boss believes Max Verstappen would beat Lewis Hamilton in equal machinery.

Max Verstappen would triumph over Lewis Hamilton in equal machinery nowadays, claims a former F1 team boss.

As the two most recent greats of Formula 1, with Verstappen adding a third consecutive title to his career statistics following a dominant year at the front of the sport, the eternal question of whether Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton is the superior driver continues to be asked.

With Hamilton a seven-time World Champion, joint-top with Michael Schumacher, with the most wins of anyone in the history of the sport, Hamilton’s pedigree is unquestionable, while Verstappen’s recent success has elevated him into the upper echelons of the sport’s history books.

Joan Villadelprat: Max Verstappen is now F1’s best driver

Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, former Benetton boss Joan Villadelprat weighed up the question of who he’d put his money on between Hamilton and Verstappen – and was blunt when asked whether he reckons Hamilton is still at Verstappen’s level.

“No. Lewis is making mistakes,” said the Spaniard.

“He doesn’t have the car. And we don’t know how good the Red Bull car is.

“You can compare the Mercedes car, how good it is, because [George] Russell is good. And he’s there with Hamilton.

“You don’t know Red Bull. Red Bull is Max and Checo [Perez] is half-a-second to a second behind. Checo is not a bad driver, he’s a f**king quick driver.

“Maybe the way they have developed the car, maybe the way that Max is asking things, maybe what you put in that car to make Max be quicker goes totally against what Checo probably wants.”

The idea of Hamilton and Verstappen ending up on the same team remains a far-reaching proposition, although Christian Horner’s recent reveal of an apparent inquiry from Hamilton’s father about Red Bull sparked plenty of speculation during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

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But if Hamilton and Verstappen were to end up on the same team for 2024, Villadelprat believes that current-spec Verstappen would beat current-spec Hamilton – although that doesn’t mean that would have always been the case, or might even be the case in the future.

“I think, today, [Max],” he said.

“Today, he has got such confidence. I believe that, today.

“That doesn’t mean that… well, you look at Alonso and what he’s done this year, at 42. He’s still like a young kid. Today, the drivers’ careers can be longer and whatever, in the past, 30 years, 32, 33, you already needed to retire.

“Today, you may arrive at 50, if you carry on like that. I believe that the body language, what you see, the way they approach the weekend, the way you do the first lap –  because Max, on one lap, is there. Bam, that’s it. Wet, dry, humid, you name it – it doesn’t take more than one lap to be there.

“But he is putting the foot down on the first lap, and the first lap is quicker. Boom, that’s it. That’s his confidence.

“He’s got the confidence now that he’s untouchable. When a Formula 1 driver, a World Champion, gets to that stage, it’s very difficult to stop it.

“Hamilton has had moments like that. But… how can I say it, without sounding against Hamilton? Because I’m not at all, I love Hamilton.

“But he had a very good time with Mercedes, knowing the rules of the engine well before anybody else. They get the best f**king engine in the paddock, and, for a while, it had been the most powerful.

“Not only the chassis, but the engine in particular was the most powerful engine in the paddock. That helped him to win a lot of championships.

“If you compare [Nico] Rosberg and him, I didn’t see Rosberg as anything special. Rosberg was sometimes able, and [Valtteri] Bottas was sometimes quicker than Hamilton in qualifying as well, and he’s not a special driver.

“We’re not talking about Bottas being in the league of [Ayrton] Senna or Hamilton, Max or Michael – not even Rosberg was in that league. So what that means is that they had a tool that was more powerful than the rest.

“I don’t think Max has that. Because, the first year they won the championship, it was like that (indicates a smidge of a gap with his fingers).

“Today, his team-mate is not even close. And his team-mate is not bad – he’s as quick as Bottas and Rosberg. Checo Perez is quicker than them. That’s what I think. So I don’t know how much is the car, and how much is Max.”

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