Put Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the Red Bull RB19 together and F1 pundit Peter Windsor cannot foresee Hamilton denying Verstappen the title.
Not since their epic tussle over the 2021 World Championship have we had the chance to see Verstappen and Hamilton fight it out in near-equal machinery, Verstappen after that 2021 success going on to become the dominant force with Red Bull stretching clear of Hamilton’s Mercedes team.
Ever since the end of 2021 then it has been a story of a Mercedes and Hamilton recovery mission, with Verstappen now looking well set to add to his 2021 and 2022 crowns to become a three-time World Champion.
Lewis Hamilton cannot beat Max Verstappen to title in RB19
Verstappen initially faced competition from team-mate Sergio Perez, the pair taking two wins apiece from the opening four rounds, but Perez has since suffered an alarming drop in form, all while Verstappen has claimed four wins in a row to move 69 points clear of his team-mate.
But, if Hamilton were alongside Verstappen at the wheel of that RB19, would it be Hamilton who secured the Drivers’ title? No, in the opinion of former Ferrari and Williams team manager Windsor.
He argues that the partnership of Verstappen and Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s design chief who is regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 has ever seen, is a match simply too mighty for any driver to beat from within Red Bull.
Asked by a fan on his YouTube livestream who would win the title, Verstappen or Hamilton, if they were both driving the Red Bull RB19, Windsor replied: “Well, in order for them to be team-mates, it would mean Lewis obviously joining Red Bull. And in that situation, I think it would be Max.
“Because Max has this symbiotic relationship with Adrian [Newey], and for sure with Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal], but more importantly with Adrian, because Adrian is the guy.
“And Max knows Adrian’s brain pretty well and for sure, Adrian knows Max pretty well. And there’s only one Adrian and Lewis would be chiming into that, to some extent, and he’d be getting in his racing car and it would feel great, much better than the Mercedes, and he might out-qualify Max by a tenth or two.
“But in terms of overall in a season, it would be almost impossible I think to beat the Max Verstappen-Adrian Newey partnership, even if you’re Lewis Hamilton, or George Russell, or Charles Leclerc, or anybody, because it’s not just Max, and it’s not just Adrian, it’s the two of them together.”
Lewis Hamilton performance since Abu Dhabi 2021 staggering
That legendary title battle between Verstappen and Hamilton across the 2021 campaign sadly came to a controversial end in circumstances outside of either driver’s control, and in the aftermath there were question marks over whether Hamilton would retire from Formula 1 there and then.
He did not though, and despite having not tasted victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP, Hamilton remains laser focused on getting Mercedes back into the fight with Red Bull and finally claiming that record eighth World Championship.
And Windsor is “staggered” that Hamilton continues to operate at his current level considering what went down in Abu Dhabi, the record-breaking success he already has enjoyed and the fact that he has raced in Formula 1 every year since 2007.
“As I’ve said several times, ever since Abu Dhabi ’21 actually, I’m staggered that Lewis is driving as well as he is after what happened,” Windsor stated.
“And given the fact that he’s won seven World Championships and he’s been racing since 2007, it’s amazing that he’s still totally hungry and happy to be out there racing with the bunch behind the leaders, I.e. Max, and racing hard and driving well, and it’s just brilliant to watch. I’m absolutely blown away by how good he is in this situation.”
Hamilton as it stands is out of contract at Mercedes come the end of F1 2023, though it is widely expected that he will agree fresh terms to continue with the team.