Ralf Schumacher warns Max Verstappen on route to Lewis Hamilton’s F1 win record

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen share the podium in Spain. June 2023

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen share the podium in Spain.

Ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher pointed out that the shelf life of the Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominance will be crucial in determining whether Lewis Hamilton’s record can be touched.

From 2014-2020 Mercedes dominated the Formula 1 landscape with seven Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles, six of those Drivers’ crowns going the way of Hamilton.

The Brit’s race-winning ways continued in 2021, by which point Verstappen and Red Bull had arrived on the scene as title rivals, and while Mercedes retained the Constructors’ crown to mark an eighth success, Verstappen snatched the Drivers’ Championship from Hamilton on the final lap of the season.

Verstappen has since become the dominant force of Formula 1, taking his 41st career win at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix, and although Hamilton is without a win since Saudi Arabia 2021, his ultimate F1 victory record of 103 is going to take some serious catching.

Still, if Red Bull continue these all-conquering ways, having won all eight grands prix so far in F1 2023, Verstappen taking six of those, then the Dutchman could well go on to trouble that Hamilton record with his Red Bull deal running until the end of 2028.

As six-time race winner Schumacher points out though, it depends on how long this dominant streak can continue.

“Max Verstappen claimed his 41st career victory in Canada, equalling Ayrton Senna,” Schumacher stated in his Sky Germany column.

“Max controlled the action, even though it wasn’t the ideal Red Bull track.

“However, it is still a long way to Lewis Hamilton’s winning record, so we will have to wait and see how far his dominance lasts.”

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It is still possible for a Formula 1 driver to make the difference in this combination of team and driver. After all, Verstappen is continuing to school the field, while Sergio Perez in the other RB19 is suffering a bit of a form crisis, currently without a podium in his last three outings.

If Red Bull, then, at least continued to give Verstappen a challenger which was there or thereabouts with the race-winning pace in Formula 1, then he would likely continue to pick up wins, though with that Hamilton record in mind, probably not with the current level of relentlessness.

That is, of course, unless Red Bull match or even exceed their dominant ways of old with this fresh run, at which point Verstappen, as is the case now, is going to be near-impossible to stop.

On the flip side, as Red Bull found out between 2014-2020 in the Mercedes era, victory opportunities can be few and far between when fighting against a superior rival challenger, no matter how talented your drivers may be.

There is then, as Verstappen has eluded to already, a big slice of luck involved when it comes to such dominant spells, as it requires the team producing a challenger good enough in the first place to unlock the potential for victories.

Then, like Verstappen is so expertly doing, the driver can take over and deliver the results.