Hamilton claims that Verstappen has had 'easy' teammates


Lewis Hamilton has claimed that in terms of teammates, he has faced tougher opposition than Max Verstappen.

The Briton was talking in the wake of Toto Wolff's admission that he found the 1.3s gap between the Dutchman and his Mexican teammate in qualifying at Zandvoort "odd" and "bizarre".

"We have seen it all these years, Checo is a grand prix winner, a multiple grand prix winner," said the Austrian. "And he was a winner at Racing Point, so I cannot comprehend.

"Max has destroyed every single team-mate that was with him," he added. "Whether it is his ability to create a car around himself that is just very tricky to control, but fast when you can control it, and that creates those gaps. But 1.3? I obviously haven't heard any explanations, but yeah, odd."

"Bullshit comments!" said Verstappen in response. "It's not like that, I just drive the car the fastest way possible.

"I'm not there to tell the guys to give me more because that's how I like it," he added. "I just say 'design me the fastest car and I'll drive around that' because every single year, every car drives a little bit differently.

"My driving style is not something particular, I adapt to what I need for the car to go quick. For me, what is very important is that you are able to adapt your driving style to what the car needs."

Unable to challenge the Red Bull on track, and still, understandably, nursing some resentment towards his rival, Hamilton has now waded into what is increasingly looking like a blatant bid to destabilise the Austrian team.

Speaking to Sky Italia, the seven-time world champion, claims that, unlike him, Verstappen has never faced a genuine threat from his teammates.

Asked if he was impressed with the Dutchman, especially as he is on the verge of becoming the first driver to score ten consecutive wins, Hamilton replied: "We've seen it through history. I'm no more impressed than when Michael was leading, when Sebastian was leading, when Kimi was driving, when Fernando was winning... same.

"I think the team as a whole is one of the strongest," he continued, "they're firing on all cylinders right now. The car is incredible, the driver's doing an amazing job, very consistent, the pit crew are doing a great job, the mechanics are doing a good job, strategy's doing a good job... it's on point, you can't fault them."

While Verstappen is given credit for 'destroying' teammates like Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and now Perez, Hamilton believes he wasn't given kudos for 'seeing off' tougher opposition.

"It's actually interesting because I was running this morning and I was thinking about this," he said. "The narrative, that goes through the media, you know when I qualified half a second, six tenths ahead of Valtteri, they didn't say the same thing as they say today when Max qualifies six tenths ahead of Perez, it's blown up much more.

"In my personal opinion, Valtteri, and actually all my team-mates, have been stronger than the team-mates that Max has had," he added, before proceeding to list them.

"Jenson, Fernando, George and Valtteri," he recalled, before being prompted into remembering "Nico (Rosberg), I've had so many.

"These guys have all been very consistent, and Max has not raced against anyone like that."

Of course, Hamilton has no doubt forgotten the numerous times Toto Wolff referred to Valtteri Bottas as the Briton's "wingman".

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Published: 02/09/2023
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