‘Generational talent Max Verstappen will be better than Lewis Hamilton’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) waves from the podium as Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) looks on at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Max Verstappen waves from the podium as Lewis Hamilton looks on at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert has tipped “once-in-a-generation” talent Max Verstappen to surpass the achievements of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton stands as the most successful driver in F1 history, having equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships in 2020 before becoming the first driver to surpass 100 pole positions and grand prix victories the following year.

However, the Mercedes driver remains without a win since the penultimate race of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia, which occurred just seven days before Hamilton lost his crown to Verstappen in highly controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

Max Verstappen backed to be better than Lewis Hamilton

Following his latest victory at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Verstappen has now won 34 of the last 55 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021.

The Dutchman’s dominant Red Bull team broke McLaren’s long-standing record for the most consecutive wins by a single team in Budapest, where they secured a 12th consecutive victory stretching back to the 2022 season finale.

With Verstappen seeking an eighth straight win of his own at this weekend’s Belgian GP at Spa, Herbert is convinced that the two-time World Champion is on a trajectory that will see him overcome Hamilton’s achievements.

“Verstappen is a once-in-a-generational talent,” he told King Casino Bonus. “There is always one individual who comes along who is better than the last – notwithstanding the technological advances.

“Max will be better than Lewis, Lewis was better than Michael Schumacher, and Schumacher was better than [Ayrton] Senna. It just evolves.”

Herbert added that Verstappen has matured as a driver since his early success, with his potent partnership with Red Bull setting a high standard for the opposition.

He explained: “Max has grown up so much as a driver. He just doesn’t fly away into the distance. He will judge it and do just what he needs to do. That is the change from the Max of old. Because of that I do not see anyone yet getting themselves on to the same level as Red Bull.

“A bad day for Max was second. A bad day for him now is first!”

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Herbert’s comments come after Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion, outlined the difference between Verstappen and Hamilton earlier this month.

Describing Verstappen as “a war machine” and “a robot”, Villeneuve claimed that the Red Bull driver competes with an “extraordinary energy” and consistency unmatched by any other driver on the grid – with Hamilton’s performances more unpredictable even during his own dominant era with Mercedes.

“He goes very up and down in performance, it depends on the weekends,” Villeneuve said of Hamilton’s 2023 season so far. “But he’s always been like that, every season, even when he was winning.

“He’s never had a perfect year like Verstappen.”

Read next: ‘Lewis Hamilton never in sync with Mercedes car like Max Verstappen is at Red Bull’