Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Hamilton’s greater experience in title fights is no advantage – Verstappen

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen doesn’t see himself at a disadvantage in his contest with Lewis Hamilton despite his rival’s greater experience in championship fights.

The Red Bull driver is seeking his first world title, and trails the seven-times champion by eight points heading into this weekend’s race. But Hamilton’s knowledge of past contests won’t help him, says Verstappen.

“The only advantage you can really have, I think, is if you have a faster car,” said Verstappen in response to a question from RaceFans. “In this sport it’s so dominant when you have a good car, there’s so many good drivers in the sport, but they don’t have the opportunity to fight at the front.

“So if you have seven titles or one or zero I think at the end of the day when you spend a few years in F1, especially more towards the front, like top five, you know that you have to try and finish every race, you know that you have to score the most available points every single weekend.

“All of us, we always try to do our best and race in the best possible way. So I don’t really see the advantage there.”

However Verstappen feels Hamilton’s Mercedes team has made clear progress since they introduced an aerodynamic upgrade for their car at the British Grand Prix.

“The last two weekends, for sure they were very quick,” he said. “I think Hungary in general they were very strong. But we have to see again here.

“For sure they will be quick here. Traditionally, this track hasn’t been the best for us because of the long straights. I know that we definitely did close the gap a bit in terms of top speed, but we are still not there.

“I do think compared to last year for sure, our car is a lot better, our top speed is better. But how good it’s going to be against them, it’s a bit difficult to say.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Hamilton’s greater experience in title fights is no advantage – Verstappen”

  1. Yeahhhhh I’m not buying this one.

    1. He has been mistake free unlike Lewis, so i would say he is correct.

      1. Silverstone wouldnt have happened with a more experienced Max. “mistake free” :)

        1. Silverstone happened with a very experienced Hamilton.

  2. Hamilton’s greater experience in title fights is no advantage

    Er, yes it is!!!

    1. So far this year it seems that Verstappen held up better under pressure (even when ignoring Silverstone).

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        26th August 2021, 16:45

        yeah, I’d totally agree with you if he were 50 points ahead in the championship and wasn’t exploding at interviewers in front of Lewis… One might say that he didn’t do a good job of holding onto to the championship lead or building on it but that wouldn’t be me…

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          26th August 2021, 17:39

          Verstappen has been far better in interviews this year than previously. Certainly not exploding in the way you put it.

          50 points is pretty representetive of where Verstappen deserves to be in terms of points ahead of Hamilton. Even excluding Silverstone, Verstappen lost 25 points in Baku through no fault of his own at all, and a certain podium (at least 15 points) in Hungary. That is already 40 points lost, and it wasn’t his fault. To add to this, Hamilton was lucky in Imola that Russell caused a red flag, that effectively gained him at least 12 points more than he would have done.

          You can very easily say that Verstappen deserves to be ahead by 50 points at least, even without considering he’s had a better car at times. Then iff you add on silverstone, he lost another 18 points there. You could even say that it wouldn’t be unrealistic for them to be as far as 70 points apart. Red Bull being the better car can be said to be responsible for some of these, but not most.

          Verstappen has been significantly better than Hamilton this year, (regarding number of mistakes, not so much pace) but from what you are saying, it looks like you don’t see that it is obvious that he would be at least 50 points ahead of Hamilton if not for his bad luck. It would be very predictable that if their luck had been reversed that you would point out every little bit of detail as to why hamilton was so far behind.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th August 2021, 20:37

            @thegianthogweed Basically, what you’re saying is that Lewis is now leading the championship by 8 pts all due to good luck for him and bad luck for Max?

            I find it odd that most folks believe that to be a more likely explanation than Lewis got there on merit.

          2. @freelittlebird

            Some of us actually view the races.

          3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th August 2021, 20:58

            @aapje viewing is not a guarantee of understanding:-) I can watch a chess match with Mikhail Tal but that doesn’t mean I understand why he’s sacrificing his queen against the world champion at the start of the match.

          4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            27th August 2021, 10:09

            @freelittlebirds

            Lets say Hamilton’s good luck and Verstappen’s bad luck was reversed.

            Starting off with Imola and Hamilton not getting saved by a red flag. Take away at least 12 points.

            Then Baku. Hamilton has a puncture instead of Verstappen (which hides his mistake that made him finish behind even Mazepin). Verstappen gains 25 points, which was certainly deserved.

            On to Silverstone. Though unlikely, Hamilton could have taken himself out rather than verstappen. What happened was deemed to be Hamiltons fault, so regardless of the outcome, it was still him at fault. Lets say he suffered the consequences and then Verstappen will have won, especially as he will have got no penalty. That is Hamilton losing 25, and Verstappen gaining it.

            In Hungary, lets say Bottas heavily damaged Hamilton’s car instead of Verstappens. As this was more bad luck on Verstappen’s side that you seem to be ignoring. Hamilton does tend to be better at recovering than Verstappen, but had their roles been reverced, Verstappen would have pretty much had a guarenteed win and Hamilton will have likely finished in the lower end of the points.

            Lets add this up in a way that reflects what would have happened if their luck / bad luck was reverced.
            Hamilton losing around 12 in Imola, 25 in Silverstone and around 20 in Hungary.

            Verstappen gaining 25 in Baku. 25 in silverstone and likely another 25 in Hungary.

            The last one will have been a bit lucky as in reality, I expect hamilton will have won that and Verstappen will have been 2nd.

            Still it reflects that hamilton has indeed been very lucky and verstappen has been the opposite, so yes, Hamilton is leading the standings due to good luck towards himself and bad luck for verstappen. If you take the 57 points off hamilton, he would have 138 points. If you

          5. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            27th August 2021, 10:18

            continuing my post that i posted too early…

            If you add Verstappen’s lost points up (around 75), he would have 262!! By your logic towards Hamilton, Verstappen clearly will have done enough to be significantly better than hamilton by well over 100 points, but I can’t see you seeing it that way at all. This overemphasizes the gap, but the realistic one certainly in verstappen ahead by over 50, and Hamilton certainly doesn’t deserve to be ahead. It simply has been almost entirely down to good luck on his side and the opposite for Verstappen that he is ahead.

          6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            27th August 2021, 14:37

            @thegianthogweed essentially, you’re categorically opposed to the notion that Lewis got the championship lead based on merit and believe Max has driven so well that he should be at least 50 points ahead of Lewis.

            That was my point.

            And that’s the beauty of the situation and what makes it even more impressive for me that Lewis has gotten the lead back.

            Anyway onto Spa! Looks like Lewis has no clue what he’s doing again so the Verstappen camp and Red Bull have already got one hand on the WDC trophy.

          7. @freelittlebirds)

            viewing is not a guarantee of understanding:-)

            You are the living example of that indeed ;)

    2. @sonnycrockett
      The thing is Hamilton’s experience might prove crucial at the end of the season but he has to use it to its full extent. He made a lot of mistakes for a driver of his experience and pedigree : putting his car into the wall in Imola, throwing the win in Baku, having his worst qualifying result 7th in the most important qualifying session in Monaco, getting involved in a race ending crash in Silverstone though he got lucky with the red flag, starting the race in Hungary on in the intermediate tyres…

  3. Never underestimate your enemy…

    1. In Ron Dennis’ interview long ago, Alonso very much underestimated Lewis by saying “why you hire a rookie to drive a McLaren F1 car?” We all knew what happen back then in 2007. Why this happen, because Alonso big up himself by beating MS at the time as F1 driver benchmark for 2 straight years he thinks and proclaimed himself in his own mind was untouchable.

      1. Madjaya
        Funny thing is that neither were very seasoned drivers at the time, as a matter of fact. Hamilton and Alonso both lost the title in 2007 and that was well deserved. It taught them a lesson, as Alonso and Hamilton to a lesser extent just came out from it with more expertise and better drivers overall.

        Reply moderated
      2. In hindsight, even Fernando agrees that his attitude was poor that year.

        Imagine if you’re 24 years old, and had just defeated the greatest driver of all time, two years on the boucne…I mean, you could be excused for having a bit of an inflated opinion of yourself.

        1. He was far older than 24 (far debatable).

  4. you don’t respect Hamilton’s experience at your own peril …
    vesterpen will one day regret saying this about a 7 time WDC

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th August 2021, 16:41

      @spiderman time will tell – there’s a good chance that Max can win this championship. Of course, Mercedes and Lewis will do everything they can to stop that from happening in terms of delivering competition on track. Max’s gloves have been off for while (well, they’re always off and that’s his Achilles heel), Lewis took his off recently and delivered a couple of knockout punches but it’s still early in the game.

      By the way, have you played Spiderman on PS? :-) Great game!

  5. If Verstappen has Lewis’s experience then he would have known to let Lewis pass him at Silverstone Copse corner and get Lewis back in the pits. Failing that he settles for 18 or 19 points and by now Verstappen would still be in the lead of the championship. So how Verstappen don’t see experience as counting for nothing means he’s not learning.

    1. So how Verstappen don’t see experience as counting for nothing means he’s not learning.

      If Lewis actually used his experience he wouldn’t cause an incident where he was deemed predominantly to blame. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      1. If Lewis actually used his experience he wouldn’t cause an incident

        Maybe Lewis’s experience told him that it was time for Verstappen to learn what happens when the other driver doesn’t back out.

        1. Yes, I believe this is what Hamilton ultimately tried to do, it was an statement to Max that he won’t bulge for him. But for sure this will have ramifications on the long run, a bit as when Senna / Prost rivalry began to stir back in the day. We haven’t seen the end of it yet, that’s for sure. And I believe Max will do the same again should another similar situation happens again. So, this is exciting for all of us. And it will be also a big chance for Lewis to prove he can withstand real pressure until the end. When things went to the wire with him he used to mess a bit; ex 2007 (but he was a rookie); 2008 with a very messy weekend at Interlagos and being saved by Timo Glock tire issues, and also when Nico beat him. All the other titles he really didn’t have opposition until the end. Let’s hope it will go like this this year.

        2. @gardenfella72 Let’s just recall that was a penalty-worthy move and he had damaged his own car in not backing out, and was only saved by the repair time during the red flag he himself caused. ie. I would think LH’s experience would tell him that stubbornness and damaging one’s own car is not generally the way to get ahead, or at least no guarantee. Meanwhile it is highly likely Max would do everything the same. After all, he was not the penalized one. He was doing exactly what he has seen LH and other WDC level drivers do very often. And when Nico got stubborn and finally refused to back out, he took both himself and LH out, and was vilified for it. Even accused of doing it intentionally, when his only intention really was to be stubborn and not back out that time. Surely LH, with all his experience, including having it happen to him, knows how lucky he got that day.

          1. @robbie It’s about the long game. Champions know that. LH couldn’t continue to let MV bully him out of corners and win the championship. MV had to learn what happens when the other driver doesn’t yield.

        3. So your claim to defend Lewis, is by stating he crashed on purpose into Max…

          Reply moderated
      2. Lewis’ experience is why he held his ground on the inside knowing that Max would come off second best if they made contact. Expectedly, young Max didn’t have this calculation in mind when he chopped across Lewis’s path.

        1. @david-beau So you’re saying LH calculated that his penalty would not be a deal breaker, and that the damage he caused to his own car would be able to be repaired during the red flag time that he himself caused? Wow, that’s not just using experience, he must actually have a crystal ball. Not to mention of course Max did not ‘chop across’ LH’s path. I would call what Max did taking ownership of the corner in the same manner he has observed LH and other WDC’s do very often when being that sustainably far ahead in a corner. That this time LH got stubborn and made a penalty-worthy decision is on LH, not on Max.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th August 2021, 17:38

            @robbie well, if the championship is decided by the Silverstone incident, at least, Max, Red Bull and his supporters will take solace in the fact that it was a penalty-worthy challenge.

          2. @freelittlebirds Boiling it down to one incident at the end of the season is an exercise in convenient selective argumentation. Once could just as easily select, to suit one’s own point of the moment, Max’s tire failure, LH’s braking mistake at the same race, VB taking out both RBR’s, Mercedes decision to have LH be the sole one on the grid for the restart etc etc. Bottom line is that one has to add up all the incidents that made up the season for they are all intertwined. And none of them can be changed once they have happened. Of course that won’t stop some from boiling it down to one thing, just as supposedly LH lost in 2016 because of one dnf, which of course conveniently forgets everything else that went on…his poor starts, Nico’s intestinal fortitude including his seven straight wins going back to the previous season, Nico ceding position to LH at Monaco that year because it was the right thing to do, etc etc. Everything that happens goes into F1’s archives and is what makes up the winners each season.

    2. If the roles were reversed So Lewis where Max was and Max where Lewis was I think Lewis would do the same what Max did as he was ahead. But i sure Max wouldn’t push there as he know after that turn he could try to get the inside (what Charles did on Max in 2019)

    3. Nice try but as clearly seen in the footage that is exactly what Max did. He left more space than needed (ref: see vs Leclerc who left way less space for Lewis) It wasnt enough however for Lewis since he red misted the corner seeing Max going in. Tainted season

  6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th August 2021, 16:08

    “All of us, we always try to do our best and race in the best possible way. So I don’t really see the advantage there.”

    Well, Max is right. There’s really not much he can do about the number of titles that Mercedes has. He can’t stop Mercedes and Lewis from using their experience to beat Red Bull. That much is obvious.

    1. Nope, he only can do better. And for driving that is what he is doing.
      For luck only Hamilton profits.

  7. Considering most if not all of Hams championships have been cakewalks (minus that strong Rosberg challenge) then Max is right.

    1. Cakewalks? A bit of revisionism, there.

      1. Having the clear fastest car for seven years straight is hard to overlook.

        1. if you minus the rosberg challenge and the title against massa you are pretty far from “most, if not all”, innit ? also there was a year again Vettel which is considered that Ferrari would have won if not Lewis sits in the Merc.

          1. Yes, I’d say hamilton had good challenge in 2007, 2016, 2017, 2018 in the titles he won, mclaren and ferrari were similar and if not, it was ferrari considered slightly faster by mathematical models, 2016 car was the same ofc, 2017 mercedes was quite a bit better than ferrari, was always a tough ask to win that in a ferrari, 2018 it was vettel who lost it with a really competitive car.

          2. Ops, ofc he didn’t win 2016, in that case only 3 years with challenge where he won.

          3. And ofc 2007 is meant to be 2008, lol, however 2007 was a great challenge too although he lost it at the last race.

    2. Lewis racing skills (the wheel to wheel part) are rusty. If you spend 8 consecutive years either driving in slot 1 or 2 there is not much practice, so I guess it is no wonder. He is really bad wheel to wheel and mostly touches an opponent (Alonso, Max, Albon, Vettel.). So he might be fast but his racing skills are definitely not up to par with the sim racing new generation. If Lewis would not drive a Mercedes we wouldnt even be talking about him anymore.

  8. I think Max has shown this year so far that he has enough experience to go up against LH/Mercedes, and after all it is LH that has been making the bigger mistakes, and it has been Max that has had the upper hand at the starts. So I can see why he is saying it’s going to moreso come down to the car. I recall Max being asked at the start of the year if the pressure was going to be greater on him (once it had appeared they were going to be very competitive this season), and his answer was no because having a capable car is such an important ingredient that the pressure would be less once he is in there and able to actually fight for wins and the Championships, which is the dream and the ultimate goal of course, rather than to always be lagging and playing catch-up.

    1. The only thing keeping his mistakes down is the RBR pace advantage, if he was slow enough to fight it out with Leclerc and Norris, the mistakes would come thick and fast.

      1. the mistakes would come thick and fast.

        now Hamilton is “slow” to fight Verstappen the mistakes are mounting indeed…
        So you are right.

  9. Still, Max’s responses show that he is still mentally young and unwise in that he cannot fathom how having more experience is an advantage in title fights.

    1. @david-beau Perhaps what has helped Max’s bravado is that he has observed the more experienced one making the bigger mistakes this season so far. So far experience has not been an advantage for LH, although I grant you it could come in handy if this goes down to the last race of the season and they’re tied in points. I suspect Max is not as mentally young and unwise as you would like to think. And we know one of the hardest things to do in sport is to defend one’s title, so it is not like there will be no pressure on LH.

    2. @david-beau When you’ve made less mistakes than than someone with 7 titles under his belts, this is a perfect response.

      If he had said “For sure I’m at a disadvantage here because I’ve never been in this position” instead, I’d be very worried about his championship chances because that would show he doesn’t believe in himself.

    3. I think i don’t understand English well enough it seems. as my feeling says the reverse what you said what Max meant.

    4. Try to listen more carefully what he says

  10. I think most don’t see the point Max is making. He said most good drivers don’t get to drive the fastest car and if they did, they would be winning championships too, emphasis on the “good” drivers. Max is a focused guy, he knows if he has the “fastest” car he will win, which is true when everything else is equal.

    Mercedes built the best engines and cars which is fair play to them they did and deserve to win, Lewis had that advantage. Other drivers didn’t.

    Reply moderated
  11. If the Red Bull was consistently faster than the Merc and he was dominating Lewis at this point, I would agree with Max that Lewis’ experience would not be an advantage. But given the closeness of the battle so far, any edge that one driver has over the other is an advantage. Lewis’ experience in these types of close battles is an edge and does give him an advantage. Max also has an edge in that he doesn’t have the wear and tear of having been through so many of these battles in the past and so may be fresher than Lewis, which is an advantage for Max. But to say that his experience is not an advantage for Lewis in this years championship is just not correct.

    1. I think Max knows very well he is the more experienced racer (wheel to wheel action). Lewis has been sitting in slot 1 or 2 for over 8 years (!) now driving around hardly doing any overtaking and if so usually on a willing team mate. He hasnt had the experience Max had at all, he doesnt even come close. Sure pressure wise it makes sense to believe Lewis has an advantage. But here’s the thing: Lewis doesnt have the upper hand there either since he showed his red mist vs RedBull cars already last year. He is not at all holding it together when he sees a RedBull and we all nw his tally is 3 RBs taken out vs 0 the other way around.

      1. This is a good point: rustiness.

      2. Max may have more wheel to wheel action experience in the last few years but Lewis has more experience with the results of those few battles usually deciding the championship. Whether it was Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Leclerc, or Max Lewis has had to make/defend a few overtakes each season that, if done wrong, decide the championship in the other driver’s favor. So while the absolute number of overtaking opportunities for Max may be higher, the significance was far lower. I think that is why you saw Lewis lunge for the corner in Silverstone and Max defended aggressively: Lewis knew that, given the situation they were both in and the significance of it, if he pulled off the overtake he would have a win vs Max. If he didn’t pull off the overtake, it would probably result in both their cars going off. In which case, Max could not pull further ahead in the championship. I doubt he thought if he didn’t pull off the overtake, Max would be out and he would win the race, but that was the result.

        I agree Lewis seems more prone to mistakes this year, and that is probably due to the fierceness of the battle. But I don’t think that Max has an advantage over Lewis because he has engaged in more wheel-to-wheel battles the last few years. Battling Bottas for second or third doesn’t have as high an impact as every single overtake that occurs for Lewis could decide the championship. I think Max’s advantage is that he is mentally fresher than Lewis. We’ll just have to see if Lewis’ advantage with years of experience dealing with the championship being on the line every race or Max’s advantage of being mentally fresher is the more important factor at the end of the season. It could go either way at this point and I’m excited about that prospect.

  12. Verstappen has never had the pressure or the experience of being close to an F1 championship. He doesn’t understand what he doesn’t know. But he’s about to find out. Let’s see how he copes, not just with the pressure situation but with the toughest competitor in F1.

    1. @greenflag For sure it is a fact Max hasn’t experienced a WDC fight, so yeah he may not understand what he doesn’t know, and sometimes that works in a driver’s favour. They say that’s sometimes how a rookie does so well in his first (learning, can do no wrong) season, but then in his second season when more is expected of him and he is aware of all that will now play on his mind, having been through a full season, it can be a different and more difficult ball game.

      So far I get the vibe from Max that first and foremost he is just full of gratitude to have the car with which to finally have this fight. That itself has been a relief for him as he gets to show and do more, with more car. And he has never assumed Mercedes wouldn’t be fast at any given track and has just been taking it a weekend at a time. I think Max has had a great perspective on things all season. But of course yes the true test comes when the pressure is at it’s greatest, and we haven’t hit that time yet this season.

      1. Thumbs up @robbie i am of the same mind!

    2. A tough competitor he has handily beat so far, thats not a tought competitor then.

      1. Indeed, performance wise there’s been no comparison this year, norris would be more a competitor and probably leclerc just as much as hamilton, keep in mind leclerc would also risk less if he had a title contender.

  13. What I’ve learned from Abu Dhabi 2010 is that ‘experience’ doesn’t matter all that much. We saw the experienced drivers like Alonso and Webber crumble under the pressure while the near rookie Vettel brought home the title.

  14. The main advantage of experience is in f.i. settling for 2nd instead of going balls out for 1st and crashing, but that’s not the case here. Same with not getting rattled by the pressure and doing silly mistakes.

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th August 2021, 20:51

    I do wonder how this season would have played out if Checo was performing better at Red Bull. Would it have put more pressure on Max or more pressure on Mercedes and Lewis?

    1. On mercedes ofc, verstappen always asked for competitive team mates like ricciardo, and he goes to the max regardless of the team mate, and most of the time it’s 2 mercedes vs 1 red bull.

  16. And a lot of people around still pretending a guy in his 7th year of F1 is almost a rookie. Hell, RB lost out on the “Young Max” World Champion, that one still belongs to “RB Young Vettel”!

  17. The Dutch bias is soo blinding. Max is a great driver, as is Lewis. The fact is that the Redbull is the faster car this year, yet Max is behind in the standings. Experience is a factor, it’s difficult to deny it. Unless Lewis is lucky and Max unlucky…

    1. I don’t think hamilton is ahead cause of experience, is it experience that lets your team mate crash into your opponent, makes your opponent’s wheel explode or makes you come out best from an accident? Maybe the latter, but certainly not the other 2. Guess hamilton did on purpose to crash, that’s probably what you mean.

      1. What I mean is that people like you are a bit short sighted. Lewis has prevented numerous possible accidents, especially with Max invlolved. I can’t say otherwise. Even the last race, Max has to overtake with wheelbanging. It’s the experience.

  18. Max once again just telling it like it is. It doesn’t have to be made all so complex. Everybody can be a WDC if you have the right material. If you focus just on one race at a time and bringing in the maximum points that are in the car that day, who cares that some driving around you has more titles. Mileage at best could make some difference but still given the changing nature of the ever evolving cars I doubt it. I dont think Max is ever going to sugercoat anything.

  19. YES it is! If Hamilton was 30+ points a head & heading to Silverstone; he would protect those points & not fight his rival on the first lap. Lewis would protect his lead & settle for 2nd place!

  20. Silverstone could be one of those cases where in hindsight he will have to admit he made a mistake because he’s not use to fighting for a title.

    On the other hand, driving the fastest car means he will win the championship with quite a margin probably. Don’t forget, he should have been leading by 50 or 60 points by now. So from that point of view it probably doesn’t matter no. If you have that much of a car advantage, these things don’t matter anymore.

    1. Thing is it’s not much of a car advantage, so far the car has been even in race pace (on average) and barely faster in quali, it doesn’t explain the 50 points difference there should be, it’s the drivers that made that difference and the luck that removed it.

      1. Are you watching F1 in 2021?

    2. And therefore you will probably see as the season goes on that it’ll be either close or that mercedes will win, cause red bull is not dominant at all.

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