Max Verstappen is attempting to seal a record 10th successive Grand Prix victory this weekend in Monza, as he closes on a third drivers’ title; watch the Italian GP live on Sky Sports F1 all weekend – Qualifying on Saturday at 3pm and the race on Sunday at 2pm
Last Updated: 01/09/23 12:33pm
Lewis Hamilton says he is “no more impressed” by Max Verstappen than Formula 1’s previous world champions and has questioned the pedigree of the Dutchman’s team-mates.
Verstappen, who has built a 138-point world championship lead to all but secure a third successive drivers’ title, is attempting to seal a record 10th successive Grand Prix victory at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver has earned widespread praise from around the paddock for his performances, but Hamilton, who was controversially denied a record eighth world championship by Verstappen in an intensely fought 2021 title race, appears to be more impressed by the overall team performance.
“We’ve seen it through history,” Hamilton said in an exclusive interview with Sky Italy on Thursday in Monza.
“I’m no more impressed than when Michael [Schumacher] was leading, when Sebastian [Vettel] was leading, when Kimi [Raikkonen] was driving, when Fernando [Alonso] was winning – same.
“I mean I think the team as a whole is one of the strongest – 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.”
‘Max has not raced against anyone like my team-mates’
Verstappen’s recent run of success has been made to look more impressive when compared to the performances of his team-mate Sergio Perez, who has finished on the podium just four times during the Dutchman’s nine-race winning streak.
Perez shared two victories apiece with Verstappen over the first four races of the season but has since been unable to keep pace and has suggested that in-season upgrades to the RB19 left him needing to adjust his driving style.
The margin between the Red Bull drivers has at times been eye-catching, most notably when Verstappen outqualified Perez by 1.2s at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, with even Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitting he couldn’t “comprehend” the gap.
Perez isn’t the first driver to have struggled to match Verstappen at Red Bull, with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon having been replaced after relatively short spells with the team following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure in 2018.
Hamilton says that he wasn’t given the same credit for regularly outperforming former team-mate Valtteri Bottas by big margins, and that Verstappen’s dominance has been “blown up much more”.
“It’s actually interesting because I was running this morning and I was thinking about this,” Hamilton 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.
“And in my personal opinion, Valtteri, and actually all my team-mates, have been stronger than the team-mates that Max has had.
“Jenson [Button], Fernando [Alonso], George [Russell], Valtteri… Nico [Rosberg] – I’ve had so many.
“These guys have all been very consistent, and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
Brundle: Hamilton not going to ‘big up’ Verstappen
Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle said he was “surprised” by how “hard” Hamilton’s comments on Verstappen were.
“That’s Lewis’ opinion and he very firmly put it out there,” Brundle said.
“He’s not going to give Max an ounce of oxygen, or anything, to big him up.
“Surprised just how hard he was there. Yes, of course, Lewis has had some strong team-mates but I wouldn’t write off the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez who Max has had alongside him either. They’re world-class racing drivers.
“But Lewis just doesn’t want to give anything away, does he.”
Sky Sports F1’s live Italian GP schedule
Saturday 2 September
8.20am: F3 Sprint Race
11.15am: Italian GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
2.10pm: Italian GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Italian GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday 3 September
7.10am: F3 Feature Race
8.15am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Italian GP build-up
2pm: THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag: Italian GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
Next up for for Formula 1 is Monza, the Temple of Speed, which is the last European race of the season. All sessions from the Italian GP will be live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime