‘Max Verstappen has set a new F1 standard after Lewis Hamilton’s ups and downs’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the pre-season photo call. Bahrain February 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the pre-season photo call in Bahrain.

F1 analyst Peter Windsor has denied that Lewis Hamilton is making more mistakes now he’s in a slower car, but believes Max Verstappen has set a new standard.

The career of Hamilton and Verstappen have gone in wildly different directions since they duelled over the World Championship in the iconic 2021 season.

While Hamilton remains without a win since the penultimate round of that year in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen claimed his sixth victory in succession at last weekend’s British Grand Prix and – with a 99-point lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez – is on course to be crowned a three-time World Champion in 2023.

Max Verstappen has more stable platform for success than Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen has won 33 of the last 54 grands prix stretching back to the start of 2021, with the dominant Red Bull team winning all 10 races in 2023 so far.

Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor has insisted that Hamilton has coped impressively with Mercedes’ decline – but acknowledges that Verstappen and Red Bull are hitting new heights.

Asked if Hamilton is struggling with a slower car, he said: “It’s not so much a slower car, I think it’s more that Lewis hasn’t spent much of his Formula 1 career racing in the midfield because he’s always been in a pretty competitive car week in, week out, race in, race out.

“What a shock from where he was at the back end of ’21 to where he then was in ’22 and he was racing with the Kevin Magnussens and Alex Albons and Yuki Tsunodas and doing a pretty good job.

“I’ve always said I’m astonished at how good a job he’s doing bearing in mind how much road dust he’s got on him going back to 2007, for Pete’s sake.

“If anybody was going to find it a tough ask it was going to be Lewis, but I think he’s actually handled it incredibly well, driven well.

“Has he made more mistakes on his own in a slower car? I don’t think he has, has he? He had a spin in the wet [in qualifying at Silverstone] but recovered very well.

“I wouldn’t have said he’s making more errors. He made a few errors on Fridays even when he was in a quick car, often hit things, a bit like Charles [Leclerc].

“Max does set a new standard but, then again, Max is in this incredible situation where he’s got such a good team around him – good car, people that he loves, they love him, everything’s harmonious, no team-mate to worry about.

“It’s just like [watching] this great racing driver become even greater because he’s got everything perfectly around him anyway.

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

F1 points all-time rankings: Where do Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso feature?

“All credit to him – it’s not detracting from him in any way – whereas Lewis has had ups and downs: [Fernando] Alonso at McLaren and then Nico [Rosberg], he wanted to keep Valtteri [Bottas] and then Abu Dhabi ’21, ’22.

“It’s been a bit more fractious.”

Windsor’s comments come after Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion, hailed Verstappen as “a war machine, a robot” for his intensity and consistent excellence.

The Canadian claimed Hamilton “never had a perfect year like Verstappen” even during his period of dominance, adding that the Mercedes driver “goes very up and down in performance” from weekend to weekend.

Read next: Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen in 2024? ‘All eyes on Mercedes’, F1 pundit claims