Lewis Hamilton has downplayed Max Verstappen’s recent dominance in Formula 1, stating the reigning champion has gone up against weaker team-mates than him.
Hamilton has been accompanied in the same team by three World Champions: Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 2007), Jenson Button (McLaren, 2010-12), and Nico Rosberg (2014-16 Mercedes).
The bulk of the seven-time World Champion’s Mercedes stint was spent alongside Valtteri Bottas, who recorded nine grand prix victories during his five years with the German marque, with Hamilton’s current team-mate George Russell heavily regarded as a potential F1 title winner in the future.
Meanwhile, Verstappen is yet to go head-to-head with a World Champion calibre team-mate. However, he has been pitted against F1 race winners at Red Bull in the form of Daniel Ricciardo (2016-2018) and current incumbent Sergio Perez (2021-23), while Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has achieved a solitary race victory since partnering Verstappen at Toro Rosso in 2015.
On the eve of Verstappen breaking the all-time F1 consecutive wins record with his 10th straight victory at Monza, Hamilton admitted he was “no more impressed” with the Dutchman’s achievements than past champions’ accolades.
The Briton also believes that Verstappen is given more credit for his current superiority over Perez than he was for consistently retaining the upper hand over Bottas.
“When I qualified half a second, six-tenths ahead of Valtteri [Bottas], they [the media] didn’t say the same thing as they say today when Max qualifies six-tenths ahead of [Sergio] Perez,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s blown up much more.
“In my personal opinion, Valtteri and all of my team-mates have been stronger than the team-mates that Max has had,” he added.
“Jenson [Button], Fernando [Alonso], George [Russell], Valtteri, Nico [Rosberg]. I’ve had so many. These guys have all been very, very strong, very consistent and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
Aside from noting the competition he has faced internally throughout his career, Hamilton has also endured multiple title fights against rival teams.
His F1 career began with two intense championship duels with Ferrari before Hamilton was also involved in an intriguing three-team battle in 2010 between his McLaren side, Ferrari and Red Bull.
After three years of Mercedes dominance and a titanic intra-team rivalry with Rosberg, a change to the technical regulations saw Ferrari emerge as a credible threat.
However, Hamilton was able to defeat four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel to the crown on two occasions before adding another two titles to bring his total to seven.
Hamilton then locked horns with Verstappen’s Red Bull for the 2021 title, with the Mercedes driver being denied a record eighth championship success during a contentious finale in Abu Dhabi.
Since then, Verstappen and Hamilton have failed to be in direct competition amid Mercedes’ failure to get on top of the current technical rules like Red Bull has.
Although Verstappen was challenged by Ferrari early in 2022, Red Bull convincingly out-developed the Maranello squad to win 10 of the last 11 races to secure both championships with several rounds to spare.
The Austrian outfit’s crushing advantage over the competition has extended further into this year, with its evolutionary RB19 being driven to victory in all 14 rounds.
Verstappen has taken to the top step of the podium 12 times already, 10 more than team-mate Perez, who languishes a huge 144 points behind in the standings.