How Hamilton exploited Verstappen’s error to win – and ensured he won’t forget it

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix review

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Winning a world championship is as much a test of mentality as it is of engineering or driving skill.

Today Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver the sport has ever seen. Five years ago Nico Rosberg overcame him with a combination of skill, immense physical effort, fortune and psychological pressure, in a campaign which so drained him the newly-crowned world champion chose retirement over putting himself through it again.

Since Max Verstappen stormed to the first pole position of the 2021 season in Bahrain, the idea that this year could finally provide a chance for him to mount a genuine challenge for the title has been a tantalising one. As much out of a desire to see the seven-time champion truly tested in his quest for a unprecedented eighth.

But to overcome Hamilton – the ‘final boss’ of motorsport – requires a formidable level of consistency and perfection. Does Max Verstappen have it?

Bottas pipped Hamilton to pole by 0.007 seconds
At the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton pressured his rival into a crucial mistake, capitalised on it – and made sure to turn the psychological screws after the chequered flag.

After the Autodromo do Algarve unexpectedly joined last year’s disrupted schedule, a return to the fast, flowing, undulating circuit was widely anticipated.

But after the opening two days of the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, the drivers had come to realise that the low-grip levels around the undulating Portimao venue were barely any better than when they’d left the track in late October. As Verstappen himself admitted on Saturday afternoon, “I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend just because of the state of the track.”

The Red Bull driver’s annoyance had been no doubt heightened by the fact that he should’ve been on pole position for the following afternoon’s race. However – for the third successive race weekend – his efforts had been frustrated by running too wide at a crucial moment.

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In Bahrain he had strayed beyond track limits while passing to Hamilton, and had to surrender the victory. A costly error on his final qualifying lap at Imola prevented him from taking what Mercedes’ CEO Toto Wolff – also with his hands on the psychological screws – said would have been a comfortable pole lap. Now, a matter of millimetres at the Algarve circuit’s fourth corner saw Verstappen’s fastest Q3 time wiped from the history books – a time that would have secured him pole.

Start, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Medium-shod Perez lost out to Sainz at the start
Instead, for the second race in a row, Hamilton bagged a starting position ahead of his title rival. But both had to give best to Valtteri Bottas in the leading Mercedes.

With all three main protagonists starting on the medium tyres, it appeared that whichever of the trio made the fewest mistakes in the low-grip, high-wind conditions would be the one who prevailed.

At the start, the trio would hold their positions steady at the front of the field. Carlos Sainz Jnr emulated his memorable opening lap here last year by jumping Sergio Perez’s Red Bull into fourth position as the remaining drivers shuffled into order behind.

Alfa Romeo were enjoying a promising weekend with both Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen running together in 12th and 13th respectively on the opening lap. That was, until Raikkonen ran clean into the back of his team mate’s car as they crossed the line to begin lap two in one of the most bizarre and seemingly avoidable clashes between team mates the sport has seen.

“Yeah, I might have fucked up,” Raikkonen said sheepishly over the radio before sliding helplessly into the gravel and out of the race.

“I was checking something on the steering wheel, changing a switch,” he later explained. “I got it wrong out of the last corner and had to check it again and just drove into him. So purely my mistake.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Raikkonen’s wrecked front wing put him out early
Somehow, Giovinazzi had avoided a puncture and was able to continue relatively unscathed. It was the latest in a series of run-ins between the pair, who touched wheels while fighting at Imola and made contact at the start in Bahrain last year. Shortly after the chequered flag RaceFans asked Giovinazzi if his team mate had approached him to explain what had happened. “No, no” he laughed, “I think he’s gone already!”

With debris strewn across the grid, the Safety Car was deployed. Bottas had kept his lead, but Hamilton was priming himself for an opportunity to attack his team mate at the restart. But as the train of cars slowly rounded turn 15 to take the green flag on lap seven, Hamilton chose the wrong moment to check his mirrors for the Red Bull behind.

“I was focussing naturally on Valtteri and literally just for a split second I looked in my mirror just to see where Max was,” Hamilton later explained. “And literally in that split second, that’s when Valtteri went. And so I lost out to Valtteri. So that wasn’t great.”

Hamilton immediately made things worse for himself. “Then I was in Valtteri’s tow and [Verstappen] was about to pull out, and I pulled out and gave [Verstappen] Valtteri’s tow. And I was like ‘you idiot’ to myself…”

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Hamilton’s unexpected gift was enough for Verstappen to pull alongside the Mercedes and take the prime outside line for the fast first corner, relegating Hamilton to third.

Perez felt Norris passed him illegally
Behind, Sergio Perez was keen to take back fourth place from Carlos Sainz Jnr – while Lando Norris watched on in sixth, licking his lips in waiting.

“I kind of saw [Sainz] battling with Sergio in the first couple of corners,” Norris related. “So I was able to sit back a little bit, prepare my line and have a good opportunity to get ahead of both of them, which I managed to do.”

Norris eventually would take fourth from Perez into turn five, much to Perez’s frustration, as he complained bitterly on the radio that Norris had gained an advantage by exceeding track limits at the previous corner.

Back up front, Verstappen was getting threateningly close to the back of Bottas’ leading Mercedes. But when Verstappen missed the apex of turn five, Hamilton’s eyes widened.

With Verstappen focused on trying to get a good run out of turn 14 onto the pit straight, where the shortened DRS zone still offered a significant speed boost, he was a little too hasty in planting his right foot, breaking traction just enough to lose momentum to the Mercedes ahead – and fall into the clutches of the Mercedes behind.

“Max made a mistake at some point in the lap, which was like perfect, and I knew that that was going to be the lap I would be as close as I could to him in the last sector,” Hamilton explained while sitting next to Verstappen in the post-race press conference.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Report: Hamilton and Verstappen trust each other to keep it clean after third scrap in three races
With all the momentum, Hamilton took advantage of DRS and a healthy slipstream to cut inside of Verstappen into turn one and take back second. Verstappen briefly tried to hold on around the outside of three, but there was little he could do.

Behind, Perez eventually found a way past Norris on lap 15, meaning that, while not in the lead, at least Red Bull now had both their cars in direct pursuit of their Mercedes rivals.

After dispatching Verstappen, Hamilton set his sights on Bottas ahead – and was anxious to try and get by sooner rather than later. “I had to make the move early on, before the tyres were destroyed,” he explained.

And when his first real opportunity arose as the pair began their 20th tour, Hamilton braved it around the outside of his team mate using DRS into turn one with a bold move in which Bottas yielded at the last possible moment. Hamilton had turned third place after the restart into the lead of the race within 14 laps.

Red Bull had lost second place to Hamilton, but they had a plan for how they could reclaim it from Bottas. Aware that Bottas had struggled already this season with tyre warm-up, an opportunity was there to exploit by pitting Verstappen early.

Verstappen was called in on lap 36, switching to the hard tyres for what they planned would be his only stop of the afternoon. Bottas was able to retain his position after boxing the next lap, but knew he would be vulnerable to Verstappen and his heated new tyres.

“On the first lap, it was pretty bad,” said Bottas of trying to get heat into his tyres. “But we knew that the warm-up with the hard tyre was going to be tricky.”

Verstappen reclaimed second place from Bottas
Almost immediately, the pressure from Verstappen was intense. With much warmer tyres, greater confidence and grip, Verstappen got a great run out of turn four and held his car to the inside, easily out-braking the Mercedes to move up to second once more.

The leading trio’s pit stops had allowed Perez through to enjoy some laps at the front of the field. Indulging in one of his trademark marathon stints, he was eventually caught and passed by net race leader Hamilton on lap 51 – but not before he had been held up by Nikita Mazepin’s Haas, earning the rookie a five second time penalty and a point on his licence.

Now back up to third, Bottas was getting better performance from his hard tyres than the mediums he’d started on. But despite Toto Wolff’s latest encouragement over the radio, Bottas was prevented from mounting a challenge to Verstappen ahead.

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix lap chart
Data: 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix lap charts, times and tyres
“At some point I was catching Max and then I had an issue with one sensor,” he explained. “I started to lose power and suddenly I lost like five seconds to Max and that was it.”

While Hamilton was under no direct pressure from Verstappen behind, the gap was never large enough for Hamilton to feel comfortable – especially with the high winds and general lack of surface grip a constant threat.

“It was such a tough race – physically and mentally,” he claimed after the race. “Just keeping everything together. It’s very windy out there, so it’s very easy to just put a foot wrong.”

But Hamilton is seldom one to make a mistake when in control of a race. Red Bull were looking like they would have to settle for second this time around. However with Perez on fresh softs in fourth, comfortably ahead of Norris, they knew a bonus point for fastest lap was available.

With the laps ticking away and Perez struggling to find enough pace to claim fastest lap, Mercedes chose to pull Bottas in from third to have a go himself. But by pitting at the end on lap 64 with three laps to go, they left Red Bull the opportunity to do the same with Verstappen on the following lap.

Report: Red Bull complaints over “brutal” track limits calls cut no ice with FIA
Bottas temporarily claimed the bonus point, but as Verstappen came around to take the chequered flag, he had successfully snatched the reward from Mercedes. That is, until his lap time and his point was deleted after he was deemed to have exceeded track limits on the exit of turn 14 – much to Verstappen and Red Bull’s bemusement.

While all this was unfolding, Hamilton had seen his lead artificially balloon to almost half a minute by the time he crossed the line to claim his second win of the season and his 97th of his career. Having passed both his closest rivals to do so, it was especially satisfying.

“It’s a much different feeling of course when you are battling so closely with two great drivers,” he said. “So it feels fantastic today.”

Not for the first time this season, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was left ruing a potential opportunity to get one over Hamilton and Mercedes go begging, with Verstappen’s small mistake giving Hamilton just enough of an opportunity to pass.

“Obviously, we need to be perfect,” he said. “It’s inevitable when you’re pushing at the limit like these guys are, it’s all about those fine margins.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Ocon took a fine seventh for Alpine
The fact Verstappen had dropped another point to Hamilton due to yet another track limits violation only added to the frustration.

“I mean, it’s been brutal for us across the first three events,” said Horner. “The win in Bahrain, the pole position yesterday and then the fastest lap. So it’s been you know, it’s been pretty expensive for us.”

For Bottas, it was a familiar story of promise on Saturday failing to convert to premium points on Sunday.

“When you start from the pole position, you have only one target for the race and that is to win the race and it didn’t happen today,” he summed up. “So I’m disappointed.”

Perez had come home in fourth place, ahead of Norris who had claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours for a second successive weekend. Charles Leclerc crossed the line in sixth to make up for a disappointing qualifying effort that had left him typically dismissive of his endeavours.

Alpine had enjoyed easily their best weekend of the season so far, with Esteban Ocon finishing seventh after pulling off a number of impressive passing moves, while team mate Fernando Alonso looking the most like the twice-champion of old than he had since his return by moving up through the field to claim eighth.

Vettel is still yet to score this year
Daniel Ricciardo, rebounding from a shock Q1 exit on Saturday, came in ninth and Pierre Gasly rounded out the points in the top 10, having both quietly gone about their own business and kept out of trouble.

After his first top 10 start for Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel was disappointed to end the day without a point. But that surely paled in comparison to Williams.

George Russell’s strongest qualifying for the team to date failed to convert into race pace. He sank rapidly down the order and even suffered the rare ignominy of being passed by team mate Nicholas Latifi at one stage. Alarmingly, Russell likened his FW43B’s handling to the team’s dire 2019 car.

Haas’ Mick Schumacher had given his team a morale boost by passing Latifi in the closing stages after the Williams driver made an error at turn three. That ensured Schumacher and Haas finished ahead of a rival for the first time in 2021 and compounding Williams’ difficulties further.

Hamilton said Verstappen’s error gave him a “perfect” chance
But yet again, it was Hamilton who had prevailed over the two drivers who are likeliest to hinder his progress towards an eighth world championship. And he made sure to let the closest of those – Verstappen – know it had come about thanks to the Red Bull driver’s slip-ups.

Red Bull have the pace and Verstappen certainly has the ability to fight head-to-head with Hamilton and Mercedes, but it may require a flawless weekend for them to beat their rivals. At the very least, Hamilton expects them to be a thorn in his side all the way to Abu Dhabi.

“We’re going to be pushing each other right to the last race. We’re going to be sick of each other at the end I would imagine. Or at least sick of racing, with so many races.”

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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121 comments on “How Hamilton exploited Verstappen’s error to win – and ensured he won’t forget it”

  1. I still don’t understand why Mercedes pitted Bottas a lap too early for the fastest lap. What did they hope to gain? Only
    through Verstappen’s forgetfulness did they avoid giving that point to the closest rival.

    1. @losd I think Mercedes found out in qualifying that it took them 2 laps to build up tyre temps with the red tyre.

      1. @matthijs I considered that as well. But then they shouldn’t have tried at all. Much better Perez than Verstappen getting it… And he set the time on first try (if I remember correctly).

          1. Mercedes wanted the extra point for themselves first and foremost, it was all about taking an extra point off Red Bull, it’s a 2 point swing in their favour to have in the bank for later in the year if they need it. Had they left Perez to take the point then they were not maximising the constructor points. First and foremost the WCC is the priority for Mercedes.

  2. It’s funny that the tiny errors (track limits, wheelspin) are very costly these first three races, while bigger errors (sliding off the track when overtaking backmarkers, or nearly losing your car at the restart) go unpunished.

    1. You could say that Max got the same punishment for a little wobble of oversteer as Lewis got for going off track, hitting the barrier and getting a lap down doing it. Luck is also a serious factor in sports.

      1. @anunaki No doubt that Hamilton had some serious luck in Imola. But things could have been much worse for Verstappen too in Imola at the restart.

        1. Sure, the same applies for that as well.

      2. Christian needs to get one of those ‘Crash Now’ buttons linked to the Perez/AlphaTauri drivers like Toto has to Valteri and George.

  3. Not sure I see what the argument is here. It’s not like Max got docked a place or reprimanded. All the rules seem to be saying is that if you’re going to put in a claim for fastest lap, that lap needs to be absolutely squeaky clean and beyond reproach.

    After all, these days it’s not like fastest lap simply carries bragging rights in the bar afterwards: fastest lap carries with it a point – the same one point that Gasly spent all afternoon toiling away to achieve.

    1. That comment was obviously meant to link to some of the earlier comments rather than just being some random remark!

      1. That notwithstanding it is a good remark

  4. Yes Lewis does need the mental game to win. I have always seen some insecurities in his persona. From the looks of it Verstappen doesn’t need to and can go for it based on his own strength. It just needs to be proved first, that’s for sure.

    1. I wouldn’t say Hamilton ‘need the mental game to win’ – after all he won without the mental games.

      That said, its another element of what makes a champion, and so if Lewis needs to get inside the heads of his opponants then he’ll recogise that as another necessary element of winning. You name a legend in any sport and you’ll see this same necessary element.

      In the same way ‘leadership’ is also part of his game, which he demonstrtes when he goes out of his way to motivate those working away in the factories. These factors were all key to what made Shumacher the champion he was. Surprisingly, I don’t see the drivers making the same statements to recognise and motivate the workers in their respective garages.

      1. I am not sure whether Lewis needs to get inside the head of the other driver in order to weaken that driver. It is more that he thinks he needs to do that. So it doesnt create an effect at the other driver, but an effect in his own brain. Some athletes need it. Others just focus on their own strength. Like when you played tennis as a kid and your opponent would cheer if you made a mistake (rather than cheer when you actually create a winning shot) Some need that. Others think (like me) it is a sign of insecurity.

        1. Alonso, Button and Rosberg all used mind games to unsettle Hamilton at times so I suspect it’s just a case of it’s all he knows from his time in the sport. There is only Kovalainen and Bottas who haven’t really played mind games with Hamilton as their teammate.

          As much as people think otherwise, Hamilton is mentally very strong and is always trying to extract the maximum. Even when he has a bad race and is coming across as “whiney” on the radio, he’s just trying to get the best result he can and ensure he learns from it.

          Verstappen will know he made a small mistake that cost him the last race but to maintain his confidence and positive mindset he’ll write it off as the Mercedes seemed a bit faster anyway and it was just a missed chance rather than expectation he would win that day.

          1. Well put @slowmo, both about Hamilton and Verstappen dealing with the pressure of a close competition for the WDC.

    2. @Mayrton
      Hammy doesn’t need the mental game, he has the metal [ie the car: I know it’s mostly carbon fibre rather than metal but you get what I mean]

      1. Rodber at it again.

        1. And you going after him again. I don’t side with Rodber, by the way.

    3. Verstappen is the one consistently cracking under pressure though.

      All those qualifying sessions in Monaco where crashed out. Or the ones in Mexico, Singapore and Malaysia where he had the fastest car and didn’t manage to get a lap together. In fact it took him years to get his first pole. Same for 2 out of 3 times in Q3 this season where he had the car yet failed to get the lap together.

      When it matters most Verstappen just can’t cope. While with Hamilton even when it all seems to be going wrong, he can still pull out that one magical lap.

      In the races same thing. Hungary 2019, Styria 2020 where Verstappen panicked, ruined his tyres trying to keep up the gap and in doing so gifted the position to his rivals. Or Mexico 2019, Turkey 2020, Sakhir 2020, Bahrain 2021 where he had the fastest car and couldn’t deal with the pressure either.

      While we see Hamilton doing just fine under pressure during the races in for instance Monaco 2019 and Bahrain 2021. Does he complain on the radio and ask the strategists to figure out a way to help, sure, but does he still take the win, also sure.

      1. So sliding off track and then driving into the barriers when under no pressure is rock solid mental strength right?

        Reply moderated
    4. Lewis is an insecure individual, but I don’t think it has any impact on his racing. His mental strength is certainly the best on the grid and I admire that a lot about him even though I am not a fan. It makes him the best. As much as I like Max and I think that they are incredibly close, I still have to give the ever so slight edge to Lewis based on that mental strength. With that said, even he makes mistakes. He went wide under pressure in Bahrain, crucially got away with the off at Imola, and he made an error during the restart in Portugal which Max pounced on (I personally thought that pass on the outside was much nicer than the one by Hamilton). I would still say that these mistakes are uncharacteristic of him, but at the same he is under more pressure now that Max has a competitive car. Time will tell. And we need to remember that the drivers are not robots, they are human and even the best of the best make mistakes sometimes. I just hope that the battle lasts all season.

    5. Verstappen doesn’t use mind games, because it’s nearly always the tactic of the more experienced sportsman. Go look at Roger Federer or Tiger Woods for prime examples.

      Instead he’s using the same failed tactic that Hamilton has during easily his worst season, 2011 – where everything is the stewards fault. Max has modernised it a bit, by moaning about the tracks as well!!

      To say Verstappen doesn’t need them is hilarious, particularly as he’s already succumbed to both Hamilton’s status and ‘mind games’ – i.e. the surprise Hamilton had that Max didn’t win at Bahrain is a clever but subtle dig, simply because Max was also surprised he didn’t win!!

      Do you think Verstappen is making that error yesterday, if Perez is chasing him? Don’t you find it odd how every single rival of Hamilton got over-anxious about him at some point in their career? Apart from Button in 2011 I can’t think of a single rival that’s outsmarted him for a whole season

      No. Max needs to keep quiet. Stop any complaining at all, no matter how valid. And ignore Lewis

      Horner, will already be aware, having been around during all of Hamilton’s success – that Lewis’s first few races of a season are always a mixed bag. In a normal he seems to need to get to Barcelona before he warms up and then at Silverstone onwards he becomes ‘Sunday Tiger’.

      I genuinely expected it to be 3-0 or 2-1 to Max – but still thought that Hamilton would win the titles, after all he’s come from behind before. Now I’d be surprised if he doesn’t – presuming the car keeps been reliable etc

  5. Funny to repeat the same line after a separate story about it https://www.racefans.net/2021/05/02/hamilton-verstappens-mistake-gave-me-perfect-chance-to-pass/

    ..without yet again acknowledging it wasn’t about ‘exploiting Verstappen’s error to win’, it was about recovering lost ground following a Hamilton mistake that Verstappen had exploited.

    I wonder why the truth isn’t good enough for some..

    1. It is indeed interesting to see how some react to extremely stupid mistakes by Lewis ( sleeping during restart, ruining his wing in imola etc) and call a wobble a big mistake.
      It’s clear Lewis already needs the mental game so he must feel very threatened.
      The press is following his mental approach. Good to see Verstappen seems immune to it. He could easely exaggerate the mistakes of Lewis but does not play that kind of childish game.
      Good for him.

      1. Agreed, they basically traded passes after slight errors. Personally, I was more impressed with Max’s pass on the outside of Lewis with a slightly inferior car on that day.

        1. Oops, meant to reply to @balue

        2. @j-l inferior car? Think you’re alone with that assessment. Mercs have been playing catch up since testing and Rbr have the quickest car when driven on the limit without the driver making mistakes.

          Although I’d say there stint on the hards didn’t work out well for them.

          Both Max and Lewis’s pass (on Bottas) were both equally as good.

          1. Have to agree with JL here – the Merc was the better car today

          2. @icarby I specifically said on that day – meaning Sunday. I think the vast majority would agree that that was the case. Not by much, but still. Max couldn’t really pass Valtteri after the restart even when he was really close behind. And I agree, I forgot that Lewis’ pass on Valtteri was on the outside as well, that was pretty good too!

      2. Verstappen “seems immune to it”?? LOL!!

        We’ve had him moaning about the Bahrain deleted overtake and then this weekend a petulant gesture when a camera went near him and moans about not one but two tracks

        Mind games are a part of modern sport. It never did Federer or Woods any harm. Max can’t play this “childish game” as you put it – because it’s can only delivered by the relevant multi-winner. They’ve earned the right to have a bit of fun

        1. What are you talking about? Your examples have nothing to do with mental games vs another driver. Wow..

        2. Jeroen Bons
          4th May 2021, 12:00

          Bro Harper do you think that “mental sadism” is a bit of fun? It is clear that Hamilton enjoys rubbing salt in wounds while he speaks about his rival as if that rival is in another room. Even when Hamilton is giving someone a compliment it sounds as if God himself is telling that person that he did something allright, considering that this guy is just an ordinary human being after all. It is always a one-way ticket to the grave.

      3. for all of us here hoping for a “close”championship with a “unsecure”Lewis Ham:
        The sheer talent of Lewis is Cast into F1 since his very first year in F1.
        If HISTORY is anything to go by,LH has a clear habit of starting the championship SLOWLY for some reason then anihilate the competition from June upwards.
        He started rather strongly this year for a usual slow starter.
        If he keeps his well documented habit,of raising his game substantially in the summer;then the championship is ;well OVER.
        Just based on history and statistics.
        Now,for us that come here ;every other Sunday;to watch some good races and entertain ourselves;LH is one pilot ;that entertain you by WINNING RACES ON 3 wheels;and we cant even enjoy and appreciate that.
        Some other sundays;LH wins with rain tyres transformed to slicks ;we still cannot appreciate that??
        No matter what side we are in, we ;as racefans;should still be able to watch and enjoy a UNIQUE and exceptional champion that we are lucky to have while we can.
        Cheers.

        Reply moderated
      4. I so agree with this. Might be that Lewis way is more effective, but Max certainly shows more sportmanship. What a joke over a wobble. Lets face it, ever since day one Max got underneath Lewis’ skin. He is always asking ‘where is Max’. I’ve never heard Max inform as to the whereabouts of Lewis. A. Because he knows form the screens next to the track (he is watching the race as well, while driving. B. Because he doesnt care and C. Maybe because Lewis is always in a predictable place (one ahead of Bottas)

    2. They sure like to boost Hammy and talk the others down at Racefans writers yes, perhaps with the exception of Ricciardo, who can’t put a foot wrong either. Especially Verstappen and Mazepin have done something wrong somehow. Well I guess its money again. Readers equals money. Enrolled in thr the FIA/Liberty scheme

  6. “Red Bull have the pace and Verstappen certainly has the ability to fight head-to-head with Hamilton and Mercedes, but it may require a flawless weekend for them to beat their rivals.”

    Should rather be: Max has the pace. RB still has nothing if it wasnt for Max in that car. Lets not pretend there is equal machinery here. Without Max no one would be fighting Lewis or Bottas.

    1. The cars are as near to equal as you can get in the sport. The promised domination of Verstappen in equal machinery is not happening. Maybe just maybe, the 7 time champ is a little better driver than a lot of you give him credit for…

      1. @slowmo Except that we are still comparing a veteran 7-time WDC still in his dominant Mercedes (until proven otherwise over this season) to young Max (no experience fighting for a WDC) who has had 3 races in a car that finally has proved to be good competition for LH. Equal machinery has yet to be proven, given most here assume Mercedes will sort it (already have done much since testing) and dominate again. So…a little better driver? Of course when you’ve had the run he has had in the car he has had, and we have always known drivers are coloured by their cars, then yeah LH is the benchmark. Let’s give Max a little more than 3 races knowing what a mountain he and RBR have to climb.

        1. Your excuses for Max are nothing short of ridiculous. The Red Bull has has NUMEROUS races where it has been the fastest car in the whole field.

          Max has won some of those races and he has lost some. So why the false narrative about “3 races in a car that finally has proved to be good competition”?

          It seems Verstappen fans will leave no stone unturned to justify his well known inadequacies.

          At the end of this season, i bet you will be asking people to give Max Verstappen a few more seasons to get to grips with his car.

          1. @kbdavies Pointing out the factual reality is hardly making excuses, and it is ridiculous for you to compare previous odd races when he’s had the car, to this season when he may have the car race after race from the start. And…what ‘well known’ inadequacies? Oh…the ones non fans choose to imagine are there. You want to imagine a potentially 8th season of LH in his dominant car equals Max with 3 races, all you’re doing is minimizing what LH and Mercedes have done. Suddenly if Max isn’t beating LH that means he’s inadequate and dropping the ball. Let’s just ignore the dynasty at your convenience then, right?

            Of course it remains to be seen and will take a season to determine the outcome, but I have no doubt that if Max prevails some such as yourself who would claim it is all LH at Mercedes, will say for Max it was all the car, and Mercedes will have failed LH.

          2. @robbie its disingenuous to suggest the cars aren’t equal at the moment. Its not a spec series and these cars are as close as you can get to equal. Red Bull were faster in qualifying trim in the last race and within a tenth or two on race pace. Verstappen isn’t a rookie either, he’ll be under more pressure later in the year but not at this stage. What you’re in fact suggesting is unless the Red Bull is clearly the faster car then Verstappen can’t beat Hamilton. I personally think in even machinery Hamilton will finish 50 points clear due to his better consistency.

          3. @slowmo I think it is early days to know how ‘equal’ they are in that they are still learning about and developing their cars, and Mercedes has a reputation for pouring it on over the season. Are we sure the Honda pu is the equal of Mercs for example? De la Rosa seems to think the difference when it came down to poor grip for all this race, was the Merc pu on straights. My point is that it takes a whole season, and three races in, compared to the might Mercedes have shown, doesn’t have me assuming anything yet. Mercedes is the benchmark for the season, they’ve earned that respect, and it takes a whole season to determine a winner.

            Hard to know what would happen in ‘even machinery’ for that would take for them to be on the same team, but for now what we know is that LH has amassed the vast majority of his numbers, often ending ‘50 points clear’ in a clearly faster car, and has only really had to beat Rosberg and Bottas over the last 7 seasons, with a smattering of Vettel for the first halves of 2017, and 2018, and we know what most think of him, and how Merc sorted themselves and took over those second halves. Of course LH has shown better consistency as he is the one who has been the better driver of the three I have mentioned, in his consistently dominant car. I have no doubt that Max after a seven year run of a dominant car would also be getting ‘consistency’ accolades.

            Does Max need a ‘clearly’ faster car? Let’s see. LH has needed it, and as we know almost all the time the WDC needed the WCC car to win it. I think it might be that it depends on the session, the day, and the track, as to who is faster car-wise if indeed RBR have actually climbed that massive mountain and are that fortunate.

          4. @robbie well Hamilton actually won the WDC in a car that was not the quickest in 2008 so in his case we know he doesn’t need the fastest car, it just helps.

            The difference with claiming its just the Mercedes is you’re not taking the contribution Hamilton made to keeping his teams at the top. We’ve seen for a few seasons now that Red Bull made cars that were hard to drive under the technical leadership of Verstappen.

            So what is the benchmark that we know, if Hamilton wins you’ll no doubt claim it was the car, if Verstappen wins the driver. We’ve seen these cars on track for 40 hours now, everyone has a pretty Good idea of the running order including the teams. Both Red Bull and Mercedes say its close so who are you/we to say its not? When cars are within a tenth or two a driver or setup can make a difference and that is proving the case at the moment.

          5. @slowmo For sure I agree about 2008 which is why I said ‘the vast majority of his numbers,’ those being with Mercedes.

            And for sure I will always acknowledge it is always a combination of driver/car/team but we were talking about equal or even machinery. I’ve never claimed with LH nor any driver that it is just the car, but of course the experts say it is anywhere from 80% to 95% of it, and the stats show that literally with only a few exceptions the WDC driver had the WCC car, and with the exceptions it was a very strong second place car otherwise.

            And then the driver and the team have to not squander that. And then of course what can come into the equation is when the second place WCC car is not really a season long threat and ends up tons of points back in the end from two cars/drivers locking out the front row. And we can also see a somewhat lesser second driver achieving front rows and poles too, and that’s an indication of the strength of the car too.

            Mercedes have been a dynasty in the hybrid era obviously and that is credit to LH and Mercedes and their awesome car, which is why I give them the nod until someone proves otherwise, and to me ‘equal’ to that dynasty doesn’t get earned in three races nor ‘40 hours.’ Let’s see how it plays out over the season. I’m pulling for Max/RBR/Honda bigtime, but they haven’t proved anything yet. That will take the season. We all know what a monumental feat it will be if they can pull it off. LH/Mercedes fans will not be surprised if they don’t. They’ve all predicted more domination in spite of the pre-season.

          6. @robbie the entire original point made was the cars are equal in performance and so far all the evidence shows that to be the case within the tiniest of margins. As this is not a spec series there will be tracks where performance will swing somewhat but at this moment in time and for the first 3 races this year, it points to the cars being pretty equal in overall pace. We do not have to wait until the end of the year to decide which car was fastest, we just need to follow the available evidence following each weekend.

            The full package wasn’t raised in my original comment and is not relevant to the point that given largely equivalent machinery Hamilton is holding his own against Verstappen which a lot of posters on here said wouldn’t happen over the last couple of years.

        2. Exactly. The debate is about how serial winners Hamilton brush off their errors and make out that the errors their rivals do as vital. Max’s lack of experience was always going to be an issue, after all he’s only human

          But he has to face up to the fact, that he should be 3-0. Probably why he’s moaning about tracks and making negative gestures to camera’s

          And he has to face another one – in virtually every season of Hamilton title challenging ones, he’s always behind the average points after the first four races, i.e. 2007, 2008, 2017 and 2018 (and even 2014 and last season) are classic examples of where the slow starting Lewis gets revved up from around R5

          1. The thing is Max doesn’t have a lack of experience. He is in his 7th season in F1 and half way through his career. I think he hasn’t matured well and is starting to panic that he won’t get a championship and that is getting to him now that he has an equal car.

        3. In the counter factual universe that Robbie inhabits, Vesterppen is still essentially a rookie with a decent car for the first time in his career.

          What a load of nonsense!

    2. Red Bull would be doing fine with Hamilton, Alonso, Ricciardo and probably Leclerc, Bottas or even Sainz in that car. The thing is that they opt for a midfield driver in the second car so they can keep the focus on Verstappen. Or rather, no self respecting top driver is going to go to that team when by their own admission, it’s centered around Verstappen. So uncompetitive midfielders is all they can get.

    3. @Mayrton:
      Here is the flaw in your point; you are implying that LH has won 2 out of races because the Merc is faster/better and thanks to the driving skills of Max, we are seeing some great racing, fight?
      Now remove LH from the equation, then you would have had Max dominating/winning all 3 races so far!
      Both Perez and Bottas in the same cars as their respective teammates are no-where in the races and if you conclude that Max is doing some magic with his car with some serious pace, then why can’t you accept that the same applies to LH?
      In other words, without LH, Max would be dominating!!!

      1. Gabriel Souza
        3rd May 2021, 13:58

        Remove both Max and Hamilton from the equation and you would have Bottas winning easily 2 races as well, Perez would have 0.

      2. That does make a lot of sense. Its just that Bottas fellow that makes the story not work. But sure Hamilton is a super fantastic driver, one of the best for sure. This whole ‘RB is on par with Mercedes’ comes from people wanting to take away the ‘but Lewis has got the faster package’ story they get thrown at them. So with the slightest signs of the RB approaching the Mercedes every-one starts firing up the comparison game between Lewis and Max again. I say it is too early. Mercedes clearly will dominate this season again, simply look at the long runs. The only reason why is seems competitive at the moment is because Lewis always has a slow season start and Max occasionally gets a lot out of that RB. Do not expect any excitement in the second half of the season.

        1. Davethechicken
          4th May 2021, 13:30

          I watched Karun Chandook compare Bottas fastest lap with Verstappens disqualified fastest lap.
          What struck me was how much more precise Bottas was.
          Max missed two apexes and ran wide at 14 but still had a better lap time than Bottas.
          The evidence suggests his car made up for a scrappy lap. Bottas lap was better but slower. Ergo the car was the differential.

          1. Race pace determines dominancy of the car. Being fastest in quali does not deliver any points. And maybe Max needs to drive the car like that to extract a bit extra during quali. And maybe Bottas doesnt need to since his corners “like its on rails”. RB did a great job catching up towards Mercedes. But Lewis is still predominantly winning because of the car. Max makes it bearable to watch.

          2. Davethechicken
            4th May 2021, 19:01

            But I am referring to the final two laps of the race, not qualy. Bottas fastest lap of the race and Maxs final lap.

    4. Weird how Hamilton leads to championship despite breaking his front wing at Imola. I’d argue Red Bull needs more luck to reach the top of the standings, their weekends are already almost flawless

    5. Just enjoy the races being this close at the minute. Id argue its Lewis making the difference beating the Red Bulls. Max and Red Bull need to capitalise on the slight advantage ( I understand this is debatable) they have.

  7. I don’t understand the second part of the title “… and ensured he won’t forget it”

    I don’t have anything against Hamilton, seems a very nice guy, very good driver, absolutely one of the best.
    Totally respect for from where he is coming from (well, maybe more respect for his family for the sacrifices they made to support him). Immediately agree he is one of the best F1 drivers of all time. I think you cannot compare drivers from different eras, so I cannot say who is THE best. Which is also why I heavily dislike the GOAT term.

    But it’s really these kind of commends from the British media and fans that I’m fed up with.
    How did Lewis ensure Verstappen won’t forget about it? By a remark after the race? That will only happen if Max lets it get to his head. And to be honest, in my opinion (for what it is worth) Max seems to be mentally stronger than Lewis. When things go bad, Lewis thinks the team – that has allowed him to win so many wins and championships and pays him the best in F1 with the highest reliability – is trying to sabotage him. Come on!

    Not in this article, but many times it is said that Hamilton forces other drivers into an error. I’ve seen a few commentators saying it in the comments yesterday and today. Like it is a masterplan that he has.
    No, the driver trying to overtake can just apply pressure on the front runner and hope (!!!) that the front runner makes a mistake while at the same time trying not to destroy their own tyres by running so close. If you can keep applying pressure for tens of round without destroying your tires, that’s racecraft. Just applying pressure for a few rounds and hoping the front runner makes a mistake that you can capitalize on is not super special. That is just the basic racecraft expected from a driver reaching F1.

    Mind you, it seems like another driver can never force Lewis into an error, then it is just a simple honest mistake, never forced…

    And don’t get me started on the GOAT term some fans have to use in every comment related to Hamilton.

    1. in my opinion (for what it is worth) Max seems to be mentally stronger than Lewis

      I’m not sure about that, although I don’t see Max being the weaker one by default. I’m sure you can hunt down a driver ahead of you and force him into a mistake by being under his rear wing non-stop. That said: I feel that over the weekend Max was more under constant pressure to make the tyres work, rather than being fuzzed by the no. 44 Mercedes showing up behind him in the race.

      A totally different pressure is the one which comes with fighting for the championship. Delivering each weekend. Make the best of each opportunity. Don’t make mistakes that could hurt you over the course of the season. Lewis has much more experience with those situations than Max has.

      1. This is the common thing most Verstappen fans have ignored for the last few years. Winning one race with a stunning performance is one thing, maintaining that for every race ,when consistency is everything, is a different matter altogether.

        Verstappen did well last year to maintain a high level all year, this year he’s got to do that while knowing any mistake will cost him in the battle for the actual WDC rather than just a second place finish. Big difference in pressure every week. I’m sure he’ll be up to the challenge but it will take him into new pastures in terms of the mental strength required.

        1. @slowmo And even the 2020 season where he was “more mature” Verstappen had Styria where he broke his front wing and ruined his tyres when he was panicking trying to keep a gap to Bottas. Put his car in the wall in Hungary on the warmup lap. Spun off in Turkey when chasing Perez. Tried to pull out ahead of a spinning Perez in Sakhir when there was gravel as opposed to the asphalt on the Russia track where this trick worked.

          We can only guess what went wrong in Imola and Tuscany, but I would say they just tuned Verstappen’s engine up too much when they lost the chance to change engine modes during the race.

          Plus he completely dropped the ball on Hungary and Imola setup. Where they were suddenly a second off the pace. Not just compared to Mercedes, but to the entire field.

          1. Gabriel Souza
            3rd May 2021, 13:59

            Max completely dropped the ball on setup? You make up everything to fit you narrative dont you jhahahaha

          2. Well in 2021 Lewis made way more big mistakes but with incredible luck even his panicked reaction when he crashed in imola was not punished.

          3. @erijke

            I realise that Hamilton isn’t your cup of tea – but most drivers would have beached that car totally.

            And what punishment did you want him to have?

        2. Being consistent race after race is what separates the great from the good. Full credit to Lewis on that. Max is maturing, and I generally like his approach in the interviews this year. We’ll see if he can make that next step.

        3. True, it is unproven at Verstappen and therefore speculation, but imho I rate his mental game as particularly strong in the sense that he has a talent for switching off external input when needed. The anger or frustration sometimes seen is coming from striving for perfection, not doubt or lack of confidence but simply that what top athletes have; the need to win

        4. Consistency is always easy with a dominating car which lets the nr 2 driver win on the rare occasion the nr 1 doesn’t. Thats the thing. Lewis in incredibly good, but he cant claim consistency, that really is the car.

        5. @slowmo And again as I remind above let’s be mindful that the benchmark is a team/car/driver that is on their 8th season of potential domination, so it is not like Max and RBR can just flip a switch and make all that winning experience disappear. Max hasn’t had the car that is consistently competitive. Now he’s had 3 races where it is consistently win-capable, while the Mercs still are too. Of course Max and RBR are just rising to the occasion. I don’t think Max nor RBR need reminding of the monumental task taking on the Merc dynasty is. But someone at some point has to do it, so great for them, and great for us, to watch the story of F1 continue to unfold. From the getgo, in spite of Mercs rough testing, the vast majority are assuming Mercedes will only outdevelop RBR this season and dominate again. But that’s why they run all the races and don’t hand out the trophies until the end.

    2. Lewis thinks the team – that has allowed him to win so many wins and championships and pays him the best in F1 with the highest reliability – is trying to sabotage him

      Well Hamilton had 8 or 9 races in 2016 end poorer than they should with technical issues while Rosberg had almost none. Malaysia being the worst where he saw an easy win go up in smoke.

      Did you miss the ridiculous rants from Verstappen against his team and the Honda engine? And then Red Bull act all surprised that Honda had enough of it at some point.

      1. Tell us, your fantasy is very large.
        Honda is very satisfied with Ver but of course, you know better. Rotfl.

      2. I mean, the mechanics liked Rosberg a lot more than Hamilton, but I highly doubt they would sabotage their own team.

        1. @JL:
          How did you arrive at that conclusion? Or you work at Mercedes?
          I vaguely recall Toto saying something about the rivalry between the drivers ‘spilling’ into the team and that was one of the reasons he gave in switching the mechanics between the drivers in 2016.
          But truly, if you know something some of us don’t know about the likes and dislikes of the mechanics when it came LH and NR, please share, seriously. For me this is the first time I’ve heard the mechanics liked NR more…and yet, it’s LH who is still in the team! Or maybe with NR gone, now they’ve changed their minds and now like LH?

          1. It’s not a first hand experience but that is what I have heard. Can’t really say much more for obvious reasons.

          2. To be a little more clear I don’t know anyone at the team, I came to the information serendipitously, so don’t take my word for it. And I don’t know more what I already wrote. But I have reasons to trust that information.

  8. Did I watch a different race? Mercedes had a clear advantage over the Red Bull on the straight. On lap 9 Verstappen was 6 tenths behind Bottas, and was only able to close the gap by 0.350 on the main straight, with slipstream and DRS. A few laps later Hamilton won 5 0.500 on the main straight on Bottas, and that’s Merc vs Merc. We also saw Bottas gain 2 tenths on the main straight each lap, while he was ‘hunting down’ Verstappen.

    The Red Bull had no chance on the main straight. The Merc was also better in the last few corners of the 3rd sector. It was just a matter of time. If Bottas wouldn’t have gotten his sensor issues, he’d probably also would have been able to overtake Verstappen.

    1. Track data disagrees with your biased emotions.

      1. @david-beau
        Can you please share with us the track data in race conditions that demonstrates that Hamilton & Bottas (before his sensor issue) were losing time to Verstappen on the main straight ?

      2. I’m also wondering what the sector 3 times were of Verstappen compared to Hamilton. On TV it looked like the final corner the Honda wasnt as powerfull as the mercedes.

        1. Well maybe Red Bull should have shed some downforce as they were clearer stronger in the tighter sections.

      3. @david-beau Qualifying speed trap showed both Mercedes almost 5 kmh faster than Verstappen, and the race proved both Mercedes were faster than Red Bull

    2. Must of been watching a different race

  9. Verstappen is clearly the finest Formula 1 driver to emerge since Hamilton. How they compare to each other, I don’t know. Nobody does. Or not yet. Maybe by the end of the season we’ll have a clearer idea. However, the past few years have been a litany of comments from MV’s staunchest fans and Hamilton detractors (often the same) effectively claiming that Max would easily beat Lewis in the same car, sometimes with predictions of “three-tenths faster.” I don’t know how much Verstappen himself believed that ridiculous hype, but the reality seems to be sinking in, as other drivers have discovered (Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Button, Bottas) that beating Hamilton over a season in similar powered cars is a very tough ask. Achievable yes. But there isn’t room for ‘not liking windy conditions’. Verstappen needs to analyze his race and learn, not run away from it, hoping he doesn’t meet the situation again. Because he will.

    1. Looking at Perez’ pace these first three races, I’m not sure the Red Bull is as fast as claimed. For me it’s another year of Verstappen maximising his opportunities after a scuffed pre-season testing from Mercedes. The Red Bull is much closer than last year, but still the second best car IMHO.

      1. @paeschli Well, qualifying pace has definitely been Red Bull’s. Race pace is difficult to measure as you have to factor in setup, conditions, and how well each driver preserves the tyres. The pre-race estimates for race pace favoured Red Bull. The actual race, with tyres losing adherence with the track and the wind, may have blurred that somewhat. Spain should give a better idea.

      2. That’s the thing. People get carried away too soon. Logically, since they want to compare the two. Sorry, but that’s still not possible with the domination of Mercedes. Sure it is closer, but thats just Max sometimes delivering beyond the car whereas Bottas even manages to be in the mix. So we dont know and personally I am a fan of Lewis and Max, so dont care much except that we’ve maybe seen enough of the one and I would like to see him in another car by now so he can prove he can win then too.

        1. @Mayrton:
          I’m not sure why you are so determined to assert that the Merc is a dominant car this season? Or do you subscribe to the school of thought that says LH only wins because of a dominant car? You sounded reasonable in some of your posts but I’m not sure anymore…
          And I really don’t think LH has anything to prove; he won in a McLaren. And as a rookie, a 2-time champion in his prime, whom a lot of people in the sport consider to be one of best, couldn’t beat him.
          Being fatigued of seeing the same person win most of the time doesn’t mean you should do all you can to diminished them, or am I missing something?

          1. No not diminshing him, it’s a great driver. Just stating that, comparable to many of the last seasons, he still has the best overall package to race with (ref: Bottas race pace vs Perez race pace), which is relevant when people start comparing. I think they wrongfully assume we’re at a stage of development of the RB where we can start the comparison. It’s exactly what Patrick said above: Looking at Perez’ pace these first three races, I’m not sure the Red Bull is as fast as claimed. For me it’s another year of Verstappen maximising his opportunities after a scuffed pre-season testing from Mercedes. The Red Bull is much closer than last year, but still the second best car IMHO.”

      3. It’s faster. Would have easily had pole and win on a Mercedes track.
        Lewis is just wringing the neck of the Merc to keep it in front.

        1. Poor Lewis if he needs wringing the best car out there

      4. While Red Bull did a good job to catch Mercedes it’s bonkers to say they are the fastest car by far. It’s Mercedes who had a bad start but quickly fixed their problem. To say Mercedes is fastest is a wrong thing to say because it depends on track, Wind and temperature. The cooler temps seems to favour mercedes more then Red Bull and is not so prone to the wind anymore (compared with test and first race and now)

        High speed corners seems Mercedes advantage Low speed corner Red Bull, Medium speed corners depends on situation.

        Looking at Q3 turn 4 you see Max losing the rear setting a really slow lap (got deleted) caused by the wind. Everyone (included Mercedes) thought the second run would be massive beter but the track said no.
        Max was on the softs and Mercedes on the medium that already told me on Saterday that Max would trouble to beat even 1 Mercedes due the speed difference on the mediums (these aren’t big overspeed difference just a few tens) While i thought the Red Bull would be beter on the hards that was only in the begin. On the red softs Max could amper beat Bottas fastest time and that was the last lap with lowest fuel possible. That does tell the Mercedes is really fast.

    2. @david-br
      While I usually agree with your balanced views and about most of what you’ve said in this particular comment about Hamilton being an exceptional competitor. However, there is something that I don’t agree with. What makes you think that the RB16B in Portimao was as fast as the W11 ? In terms of raw speed, the pace showed by both Mercedes drivers on the medium tyres in Q2 was scary and couldn’t be replicated by RBR in Q3 and on softer tyres which is a clear indication of fast Mercedes was. Then the wind picked up in Q3 and Mercedes weren’t able to match their Q2 times.

      You could argue that Max lost the pole and then what ? He got Hamilton napping at the restart and got the position back but he was easily overtaken again and never seemed to match him in the race. Verstappen didn’t have the same ability to overtake Bottas despite being stuck behind him for the whole stint before the undercut. Bottas was then catching Verstappen at a faster pace before his sensor’s issue.

      1. @tifoso1989 I don’t feel it’s possible to say who was fastest either way for certain. Maybe Mercedes got the setup just right, maybe Red Bull sacrificed some speed to get better grip as their drivers were less comfortable on this track. Also I think Bottas had a reasonable weekend, certainly one of his stronger recent performances, while Max by his own admission was uncomfortable and made mistakes with the handling (different to Lewis being distracted at the race restart). So to me they seem pretty even, certainly not enough for Mercedes to be feel comfortable ahead going into Barcelona.

        1. That could be really the cause here but hard to tell for us.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    3rd May 2021, 13:45

    The masterstroke by Lewis wasn’t passing both Verstappen and Bottas, a feat that’s a lot easier said than done on track, but the fact that he immediately put Bottas into Verstappen’s reach. And he did it so naturally that it went unnoticed by almost everyone – another display of racing genius by Lewis.

    1. Given Bottas did his upmost to shaft Hamilton on the restart I doubt he’s too bothered even if

      1. @slowmo Which to be honest was good to see! Mercedes might not have liked it, but Bottas has to do that kind of thing to have any chance of competing. Still it’s not much use if he can’t maintain the same pace. Also to be fair to VB, that Portuguese restart is difficult for the lead driver. I’m not sure he was trying to mess up Hamilton relative to Verstappen, more trying to ensure he didn’t give an easy tow and get passed at the end of the straight (which is effectively where Hamilton lost out to MV).

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          3rd May 2021, 15:17

          @david-br Bottas was perfect on the restart. His job was to get away from Lewis and Verstappen and he did that. Max also did a great job getting by Lewis.

          1. I wouldn’t be thanking my teammate if he did it to me personally but each to their own. Hamilton obviously made a pigs ear of it but I don’t like this rubbish of crawling down the pit straight which is frankly dangerous.

    2. Those half a dozen laps, when Verstappen had to stay behind Bottas were crucial

      Goodness knows what the gap would have been had Lewis led at the first corner ahead of Bottas and there hasn’t been a safety car

  11. This website gets worse and worse with it’s bias and many sensationalist headlines. What mistake? A tiny drift wide? Pretty sure I saw Hamilton do that several times at the same corner and elsewhere. Merc clearly had the faster car this weekend, but this site is trying to claim “Verstappen error gifts Hamilton win” essentially. Bottas was about to catch him for 2nd until he had his engine issue … You may as well rename it to hamfans.com. Ridiculous. And certainly not ‘journalism’. Dieter’s columns are the only thing supporting credibility on this site atm. Please up your game – this site used to provide some decent, balanced analysis, but that has increasingly disappeared since 2016 …

    Reply moderated
  12. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    3rd May 2021, 13:58

    Red Bull still need to push to absolute maximum and sometimes have to go over the limit just to equal an underperforming Mercedes, while Mercedes even on a bad weekend still are in contention for winning. The Mercedes is still the dominant and superior car regardless of it being slightly slower than usual this year and the closeness is more Mercedes having an off year than Red Bull actually challenging them.

    Looking at the pace of the Mercedes, even if Verstappen had started on pole I think Hamilton would have breezed past him anyway.

    1. Well Mercedes was little slower in S1 and sometimes in S2. S3 was were they shine and is the only place to overtake. Max just missed the power on the straight. Also Perez was stuck behind a Mclaren. Maybe sacrifice some down-force to get better top speed would be better strategy during a race for Red Bull.

  13. Kurt Laguna
    3rd May 2021, 14:38

    Will, you don’t know this to be true, please don’t state conjecture as a fact:

    “Five years ago Nico Rosberg overcame him with a combination of skill, immense physical effort, fortune and psychological pressure, in a campaign which so drained him the newly-crowned world champion chose retirement over putting himself through it again”

    1. Except that’s exactly what Nico did and he admitted that he didn’t want to go through it again. Every time Nico is interviewed regarding it, be comments on how hard it is to beat Lewis.

  14. This whole ‘mental games’ thing is nothing new – there’s been constant back-and-forth from drivers and team bosses (I’d argue the verbal battle between Horner and Wolff is more intense than that of the drivers!). But it’s clear now that both drivers are susceptible to errors under pressure and it’s exactly what we want to see.

    Max must cut out these mini-errors but people are forgetting that Hamilton made by far the most glaring error in Imola and was extremely lucky to get away with it – without a red flag immediately after his spin he’d have finished a lap down and (at best) 7th or 8th and the current narrative would be entirely different.

  15. Five years ago Nico Rosberg overcame him with a combination of skill, immense physical effort, fortune and psychological pressure

    I have to say, this is the most nonsensical statement ever made by someone with proper knowledge of Formula 1 on the Nico vs Lewis 2019 season, that it would be a disservice not to highlight it.

    No only did Nico Rosberg actually succumb to the psychological pressure Lewis put on him that season, by hitting him twice and cheating to get pole, he actually had to retire from F1 because he was burnt out by the end of the season.

    As for skill, Lewis won more races, got more poles, beat Nico in qualifying, and got more fastest laps in that season. So exactly what skills are we talking about here?

    Never mind that the team principals voted Nico as low as 4th best driver the year he won the championship, and virtually no F1 resource, website, or fan poll put him in the top three spot that year) 2016).

    The only bit that excerpt got right is the fortune part.

    1. @kbdavies Talk about excuse making. The fact is obviously Nico did enough to win the WDC, not LH, and the point for today’s discussion is that it can be done. It takes a season of circumstances and every year they add up to the story of F1. LH spent the season accusing his team of wanting Nico to win, because he had become entitled by then. He psyched himself out and was dropping the ball with his poor starts. Imho after he won in 2015 with three races to go, only to then lose 7 straight to Nico going into 2016, it is because he thought he could just start phoning it in and the team would favour him for strategies when he hadn’t earned them. Just listen to his radio comm in those races he was losing, asking the team to give him extreme strategies to get him ahead of Nico, when Nico had earned his spots. They rejected him his requests mid-race. Nico rattled him, and when he had a few more technical issues that then became a conspiracy within the team for them to want Nico to win. His public language even caused TW to publish a letter defending the 1500 staff and their integrity. Nico had even ceded to him at Monaco because that was the right thing to do, and yet still they wanted Nico to win lol.

      1. Good point about monaco, I watched a rosberg interview after he won the title (in his monaco home I think), where he was talking about the slim 5 points margin, and he pointed out he let hamilton past in monaco and that helped hamilton as well, indeed, that was a bigger points swing than in the end, cause ofc rosberg was driving very slowly, but not enough to be passed in monaco.

      2. You are obviously confused with this alternative rendition of the facts you put here.

        Nico certainly didn’t do enough to win. He won because his teammate suffered multiple engine issues and had a DNF whilst leading the race.

        Of course, your anti Hamilton bias also precludes you from knowing that Nico also had as many bad starts, and made far more errors than Hamilton did in 2016. Of course, if you want me to provide you a list, I’d be more than happy to do so.

        As already made clear, Nico won less races than his teammate and had less pole positions.

        And it is noteworthy that you mention Lewis losing 7 straight races “going into 2016” – a nonsensical assertion, when you conveniently ignore that Rosberg actually lost 6 races straight to Lewis in the ACTUAL 2016 season.

        And just to cap the verbiage you put down here, the team principals all voted Lewis Hamilton a BETTER driver than Nico Rosberg in 2016.

        That says a lot more than the academic contortions youare performing here.

        1. No biases of your own here then?

          1. No bias. Just facts.

  16. “Just give Max a slightly inferior car and he’ll mop the floor with Lewis”.

    Max’s fans are delusional. lol

    1. Not everyone, they’re about level imo, with verstappen probably a bit faster and hamilton ofc more experienced, the thing is mercedes constantly makes a super car, so I can’t trust the car-level to be equal, for example over the season I’ve already seen mercedes improve relatively to red bull, and this weekend they seemed superior both in quali and race.

      1. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Verstappen is a “bit faster” than Hamilton. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise.

        At the 2020 soaked Styrian GP, Monza Lewis beat Verstappen to pole by a massive 1.2s, with Verstappen spinning. However, Lewis was 4 tenths up in the first sector alone.

        We all know rain/wet conditions is an equalizer, and the Red Bull did not have a 1.2s deficit to Mercedes in the dry. Thus, the gap should have been much smaller than in a dry session, rather than increasing dramatically.

        Never mind that this was a track that Red Bull has been traditionally strong at.

        The point is, when it comes to pure speed, all the indications are Verstappen comes second compared to Lewis Hamilton.

        In

        1. You are going on a sample size of one 😂

  17. I can only laugh at these kind of items and discussions.

    What is it about? Silly talk about nothing really.

    Max is taking on the 7 year mighty Lewis / Mercedes for the 1st time. Both make mistakes (Lewis actually made a very big one but got away with it by luck) and the score is almost the smallest of margin in favor of Lewis after 3 races.

    We all assume one car is better than the other but we really don’t know. We only know for sure Lewis and Max stand out in their car against their teammates.

    Let’s just enjoy the fight and hope it goes on for a long time. And yes, I hope Max wins, but I can also enjoy the way Lewis won yesterday.

  18. Lewis has stamped his greatness over his competitors many times through all the seasons he has taken part. I remember in tje vettel redbull domination years in 1 season he was the only driver to take a pole that whole season away from redbull amd vettel. I cant recall which year. Ialso recall twice Lewis has won a race going on 3 wheels. Recently and when at mclaren i think in Monaco but i could be mistaken… So Lewis has proven his metal. Its not always just the car. Its just in his favour that he had with mercs a dominant car the past few seasons. But that does not diminish his above average talent.

    1. The year was 2011 at the Korean GP. Hamilton broke Red Bull’s streak of pole positions, which had started the previous year (2010) at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and continued for another 15 races.

      Before that, the last time Red Bull failed to take pole was at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix – which was taken by Nico Hülkenberg.

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