Max Verstappen, George Russell, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Hamilton ‘makes the difference in crucial moments’ – Verstappen

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen says Mercedes cannot do without Lewis Hamilton, despite George Russell’s impressive performance on his debut.

What they say

After stepping into an ill-fitting car on two days notice, Russell qualified just 0.026 seconds away from team mate Valtteri Bottas. But Red Bull’s Mas Verstappen said that doesn’t show they can do without Hamilton:

Of course you do, because he will make the difference in the most crucial moments. That’s why he’s a seven time world champion.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

After decades of tightly-enforced secrecy culture, has the availability of onboards and inability to hide let Formula 1 drivers learn more from each other, asks Ian Dearing?

New breed of drivers. George spoke about the advice he gets from Hamilton a few races ago on tyre management, and Gasly mention after Monza that he, Leclerc and Hamilton, who have their own Call of Duty team, swap tips online. Max and Norris compare notes on Twitch and there seems to be a lot more swapping notes in the cool down room and top three interviews than before.

I suppose with so much info now available online, there’s not much point hiding it.
Ian Dearing

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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50 comments on “Hamilton ‘makes the difference in crucial moments’ – Verstappen”

  1. Is Max’s answer in the press conference after qualifying?

    What kind of question was he asked? Calm down people, already questioning Hamilton after a quali session?

    Bit rubish innit?

    1. @johnmilk the question would be as follows:
      “(Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To all three: George, based on what you’ve just said, what the guys in Brackley are doing is incredible etc, one of the questions on all the fans’ and readers’ minds at the moment is does Mercedes actually need a big bucks superstar like Lewis to lock out the front row of the grid, and possibly even win the race with a one-two? How do you suggest we answer that one?

      1. oh, the question was from Dierter?

        well, this is awkward…

        1. @johnmilk A lot more awkward for the pro-Max anti-Hammers who’ll have to process their hero’s elogy for Lewis and the fact he certainly doesn’t think it’s all down to the car.

          1. @david-br
            Lol, only thing it really does is highlighting the stupidity of certain pro-Hammers anti-Maxxers who lack the ability to recognize mind games when they see it!
            Trust me: According to Max, and the majority of intelligent fans, the car is what makes the difference.

          2. lexusreliability?
            6th December 2020, 10:46


            Christ, are you able to actually string something coherent without belittling or insulting others? And no, no one can trust what you say as you are not Verstappen’s spokesperson much as you like to think you are.

          3. @Oconomo
            Max: Hamilton makes the difference.
            You: According to Max […] the car is what makes the difference.
            That’s just deliberate, conspiracy-theory twisting of X to mean Y. You confirm your own worldview even when the evidence (here, from MV) is the exact opposite. Why would you want to behave like that? It just makes you sound a completely untrustworthy person with no intellectual honesty and no ethical compass. Fundamentally unreliable. That’s your projected alter ego or really what you’re about?

        2. His questions to Bottas during the Thursday press conference were awful as well.

          1. @trublu just noticed about the article that is in line with the question from a couple of days ago

            So they started the discussion, saved face from that ridiculous question by saying it came “from fans”

            The Bottas’ one I didn’t saw it, do you have it somewhere where I can see?

          2. It is not a mind game. Max really thinks (and rightfully so) that Lewis does make the difference when it matters, but that does not do away with the fact that the Mercedes is the best car.

          3. Sorry, this one had to be one branch up.

          4. @johnmilk

            “Thank you Tom, a question first of all to Valtteri: Valtteri I’m working on the assumption that you’ve done absolutely everything in your power to be able to beat Lewis this year and with all due respect you haven’t done it. What would it do for your career or to your career if George was able to beat you? Have you thought about that one? Does it concern you at all?”

          5. @trublu so basically the press conference was used to stir up “s”

        3. And then there were so many better questions and more interesting answers.
          But this site wants to headline with a quote based on its own question/interview. That seems more important than doing a proper round-up.

        4. @johnmilk Yeah he really asks the most awkwardly laden questions. make you really wonder why they even allow him to ask his petty questions still.

          1. never noticied until this weekend if I’m honest, but pretty low level from what I’ve seen

      2. I am really getting off with these people in the media. It already started on Thursday with Bottas, and it looks like it has not stopped yet. I guess they don’t have anything to do…

      3. I agree with Max: a top driver will deliver results at crucial times that an average driver wouldn’t.
        It was also interesting to hear about the differences when driving the Mercedes and the Williams cars. That doesn’t surprise me, but it shows how far behind Williams are. It’s probably not fair to expect the Williams car to be much closer to having similar drive-ability as the Mercedes, but I do wonder if that’s something Williams could have made a bigger effort on. If Williams had been able to produce the same level of drive-ability as the Mercedes then one has to suspect they wouldn’t be currently last in the Constructors Championship.

      4. one of the questions on all the fans’ and readers’ minds at the moment is does Mercedes actually need a big bucks superstar like Lewis to lock out the front row of the grid, and possibly even win the race with a one-two?

        What kind of question is this? Jeez…

        I really wonder sometimes if journalists ask questions knowing the answer already… what was he expecting them to say? “Sure, they could fire a seven times world champion that’s the most sucessful driver in F1 history because they locked out the front row today”.

        It’s even worse opening up the question with “all fans and readers want to know this”.

        1. Well, Dieter is one of the contributors to this very site, so it (“..all fans’ and readers’ minds..”) is even our behalf. Awkward.

      5. The question taken at face value isn’t very good and could maybe have been phrased better. However we (as the larger RaceFans population) can’t absolve ourselves from this, questions like this are only a product of what Dieter thinks WE are interested in based on what is on the forums.

        Given that there has been a lot of commentary on the forums about how Russell’s performance will impact Hamilton’s salary (myself very much included) it would have been reasonable for Dieter to infer that it is something that RaceFans readers would be interested in hearing about from other drivers.

  2. What an interesting scenario….Verstappen was beaten by a ‘front running rookie’. That doesn’t make him look all that special. Bottas was less than a blink of the eye in front of that self same driver. Obviously one quali session is a mere glimpse of what the final race outcome will be however it doesn’t detract from what a lot of people have said for a very long time….any one of the top ten could put that car on the front row.Now if that’s the case, and it certainly looks like it ATM, then Wolff is now in a difficult place. Does he deny the potential for change…..?

    1. The difference is that “front running rookie” has a much faster car than what Verstappen has at the moment. Yes, we should give George a lot of credit for his performance but let’s look at the facts. Yes, the Merc is the fastest car. Yes, Russell is a very talented driver. But this track is also the easiest track on the F1 circuit in that it only has a few corners and is mostly straights. This means that if you were to jump into any F1 car this would be the place to do it. You don’t have to worry about learning the track and focus on adjusting to the car. Also, Russell has had experience with the team before. He’s a Mercedes Junior Driver and has tested for the team before although he hasn’t been able to do that this year. With all the factors I’ve listed, it’s easy to see that under this particular situation we find ourselves in this weekend. It’s easy to see why Russell was able to perform as well as he did. If this was with a different driver or at a different circuit the result COULD be different.

      1. Well said. Seems there are some sane sensible people on this thing. Ppl are also going gaga over the time difference. This is the closest times separating the top 6 drivers. A whooping. 0.413 secs. How much are they expecting bottas to get pole by on a track like this? Sigh. Congrats to Russell for a stellar job. Redbull do have some soul searching to do re that cars drivability.

    2. Just compare albon and verstappen if you think verstappen “was beaten by a ‘front running rookie’”…

      1. @CC78AMG Regarding your response…. Russell has only had two seasons in an F1 car, Verstappen has had 5 years in a very fast and competetive car which has delivered him 9 GP wins and multi podiums. Russell’s cars have not allowed him to even take single point..No competition there. The fact that Russell has been in the Mercedes ‘team’ has no bearing whatsoever on what he has achieved especially at such short notice!!! The track variations are unique and are somewhat simplistic by comparison but then again no driver has pre race experience which shows that a ‘rookie’ like Russell has been able to equally adapt successfully alongside the more experienced opposition. This track needs to be driven differently as witnessed when drivers were running in FP and Quali. Not so easy as you you would have us believe.

        Even if Russell totally blows it in the race what he has demonstrated is that ‘even the drover’s dog’ [ Aussie vernacular ] could put the Merc on the front row. So where does that leave the missing driver? Walking on water is not as difficult as some would have us think haha

    3. What an interesting scenario….Verstappen was beaten by a ‘front running rookie’

      Verstappen is 4 months older than Russel :)

  3. Nice words from Grosjean.

    The incident in yesterday’s Super Formula race (go to around 8:00) reminds me a little bit about the infamous 1990 Senna-Prost incident. Also, Grosjean versus Will Stevens in the 2015 Canadian GP.

    1. Red Bull driver fault (Sasari san??)
      4 wide in the main straight is incredible, the Japanese drivers are a bit crazy….and they’re lucky Mazepin is not driving in Super Formula ;-)

    2. It reminded me of Brazil 1994 when Brundle got a tyre in the head. 4 wide definitely doesn’t work!

  4. This seems like a case of keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

    Verstappen has done the sums. Bottas often qualifies within a tenth of a second of Hamilton. Nothing in it between the two with Hamilton just having the edge by a small margin.

    If Russell on three days notice can match Bottas in a cockpit he doesn’t fit into, wearing shoes a size to small, still trying to figure out how to operate all the dials, still figuring out the cars characteristics and its limit, then it stands to reason that Russell with 16 race weekends in the Merc under his belt, understanding the limits of the car, having the car built to suit his driving style more, would have enough speed in his pocket to not only comfortably beat Bottas over a season but beat Hamilton as well.

    Verstappen would much rather Hamilton as the lead Merc driver for the next three years than Russell. Russell would thrive at Merc like Leclerc at Ferrari and Verstappen at RBR.

    So Mercedes have to ask why would they pay Hamilton $50 million per year for the next few years when Russell will race for a tenth of that and in all probability beat Bottas by a bigger margin than Hamilton beats him.

    There is no other way to spin yesterdays qualifying other than a complete disaster for Bottas and Hamilton who saw tens of millions of dollars disappear with every lap Russell found more speed.

    The end can come quick for drivers. Look at Hill in 1996. Villeneuve had the same pace on debut and from that time Hill’s papers were stamped.

    1. @ Dean Franklin…good post. I do agree with you. I have been saying similar things for quite a while now but usually get howled down by the baying mob!!!

    2. So you are saying Max just wants an easy ride to the top of F1. Fair enough. Probably why they stick with Albon then.

    3. @deanfranklin – You came to that conclusion based on practice and qualifying. If you want to be recognised you need to beat the best, the only way to do that is by having them competing on track.

      Ferrari came somewhat close and a 4-time world champion couldn’t do it.

      Until I see Hamilton beaten in similar or equal machinery over a season, where the expectation is podiums/wins every race, with machinery failures discounted, won’t be convinced.

      Mercedes can risk not signing Hamilton, but not a risk I would be accepting but hey I guess up to Toto.

      1. Mercedes can risk losing Lewis if his demands are extreme. Add to that, name one other competitive team that is able and willing to put the millions on the table…
        Add to that, Mercedes will want to get the total team a nice bonus, rather than one single person.
        The ROI on extreme salaries is low, while a nice bonus for everyone might help soften the blow of next years extreme away-from-home calendar.

    4. @deanfranklin except, in the case of Damon Hill in 1996, Williams did not make a snap decision to fire Hill based on a single race. Damon Hill has made it clear that, in his case, the decision was made over an extended period of time, with the decision to replace him being made back in late 1995.

      Furthermore, it wasn’t about Jacques’s pace either – Williams admitted they never really wanted Hill to be a lead driver or saw him as being fit to be a lead driver, and there had been a series of problems mounting up in the relationship between the team and Hill over an extended period of time.

      Damon, Frank Williams and Patrick Head have also all agreed that, back in late 1995 when the decision was made, Damon’s relationship with the team was close to breaking down completely – a relationship that had started going downhill in late 1994, with tensions over Mansell’s return to the team and the way that Williams were far more amicable and welcoming to Mansell than they were to Hill.

      In 1995, Hill was angered on his side by Williams’s poor strategies, the indifference from the team towards supporting him and friction over decisions not to use team orders to use Coulthard to help Hill. Williams, in turn, were frustrated by Hill’s erratic performances and repeated accidents during the 1995 season, a perceived lack of leadership from Hill and a feeling that Hill was asking for too much for the inconsistent performances that he was putting in during the 1995 season.

      Even Hill has admitted in retrospect that the real problem was the fact that he’d been far too erratic and inconsistent in performance over the whole of the 1995 season. It wasn’t a sudden snap decision to fire him – it was a decision that was at least 12 months in the making, if not more, and where there were multiple motivations for the team not to renew his contract.

    5. @deanfranklin Pure and utter speculation on your part with absolutely no evidence to go by other than 3 practice sessions and one quali. Suddenly GR would outperform LH vs VB over a season? Saw tens of millions of dollars disappear? What nonesense.

      kenji No wonder you have been howled down if you believe this kind of stuff.

      1. I think he would beat Bottas easily with a half a dozen race weekends in the Merc under his belt.

        Bottas should beat Russell over 84 laps today. There’s something really wrong if he can’t beat a guy that has had three days to prepare for a car he can barely fit in.

        Albon hasn’t outqualified Verstappen once.

        Russell virtually matched Bottas despite being thrown into the deep end with just three days to prepare.

      2. @Robbie….Now we can objectively look at some concrete results. Russel had Bottas cold on Sunday. There is no doubt about that. Bottas has taken many poles and he’s virtually the only guy who has beaten Hamilton on quite a few occasions, like for like. As Dean has alluded to, Russell took it to Bottas and not only survived but beat him…ergo, if that can be done with such minimal prep then it is quite logical to speculate what he could do to Hamilton given total equality of car and strategy. I must also say that it was a refreshing change to see so many different drivers revelling in the situation that arose and a mixed result into the bargain. The ‘drover’s dog’ is the hero….IMO of course.

    6. Talk about pulling a ton of nothing out of a hat…

  5. The end can come quick for drivers.

    Yeah and it’s interesting that you’re referring to Williams since they’re also a good example of what happens when you treat your star drivers like that. They got one year out of JV and then started their slide to the back of the grid.

    1. @sebsronnie To be more accurate, JV nearly won the WDC in his rookie year and then did win it in his second, after which their engine was no longer being developed, so starting in 98 they were no longer the competitive team they had been, largely due to a relatively weak engine compared to the others.

      1. That’s correct @robbie – thank you.

  6. Ask a silly question. Hope Max responds in his usual blunt and straight forward fashion. Make a good headline out of it. Get more clicks. Very good ‘journalism’ indeed…

  7. Nik (@nickelodeon81)
    6th December 2020, 12:36

    Was Dieter Rencken playing devil’s advocate or something? That was a very loaded question. However, Max nailed it.

  8. I had a premonition that Hamilton will sign a contract worth at least £60M a year three-year contract with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team soon. Wish him all the best.

  9. La casa de papel is Spanish… Fabiano is Brazillian… one of these days shock culture is going to catch up to actual discrimination.

  10. @Oconomo
    Max: Hamilton makes the difference.
    You: According to Max […] the car is what makes the difference.
    That’s just deliberate, conspiracy-theory twisting of X to mean Y. You confirm your own worldview even when the evidence (here, from MV) is the exact opposite. Why would you want to behave like that? Weird.

  11. @ David BR I’m with Oconomo on this one. No conspiracy theory here just straight out facts. The Russell kid provided the evidence,no?

  12. @ David BR…. irrespective of what Verstappen says the actual events prove rather conclusively that it’s the car that defines the difference. To say otherwise is to defy the events of the last 48hrs. Hallucinations…..

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