Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022

Lapping Hamilton was ‘not really a surprise, they’ve been slow all year’ – Verstappen

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says he wasn’t surprised to find himself lapping Lewis Hamilton during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, given how poor Mercedes’ start to the season has been.

“They’ve been slow all year so it’s not really a surprise,” he said. Verstappen added he didn’t feel any particular satisfaction in putting his former championship rival a lap down. “It is what it is.”

Verstappen also had sympathetic words for his championship rival Charles Leclerc as well, saying the Ferrari driver’s crash which dropped him to sixth place was “easily done.”

“Of course, he was pushing hard to try and fight Checo. It is painful but I think he knows that himself, he doesn’t need to hear that from anyone in here.

“But it’s still such a long championship. You can still gain a lot of points.”

Having left the previous round sixth in the championship, Verstappen bounced back with grand prix and sprint race victories at Imola, helping towards a maximum haul of 34 points.

He now lies second in the championship, 27 points behind Leclerc. Verstappen praised his team after an “incredible” performance.

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“Melbourne wasn’t great for us and the start of the season in general wasn’t amazing,” he reflected. “So we needed a good weekend.

Race start, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in pictures
“I didn’t expect it to be like this, but of course, when you have a weekend, at the end of the day, like this, that’s incredible. A one-two for the team, but also maximum points scored.”

Red Bull got little wrong over the course of the event, he said. “The way I think we handled the race, we didn’t really make any mistakes.

“We made the right calls with switching from the inters to the slicks, and from there onwards we just controlled the race. It probably seemed easy on the TV but you still have to be focused, especially also with backmarkers. It’s easy when you’re off-line to lock up or go through a wet patch and go off track, just manage that.

“But the car was handling really well. Of course, we saw that yesterday already in Sprint Qualifying that we had good pace in the car. And we could look after our tyres probably quite nicely. So, yeah, a very positive weekend.”

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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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53 comments on “Lapping Hamilton was ‘not really a surprise, they’ve been slow all year’ – Verstappen”

  1. Didn’t he say at the start of the season that ‘Mercedes always say they are slow and then they are the fastest’

    Now he is saying he knew all along that Mercedes is slow.

    He feeds the tro11s when he makes comments like that on purpose.

    1. He just said they have been slow all year not that he knew. It’s a perfectly reasonable response and true based on the 4 races.

    2. Russell is better

    3. @amg44 Maybe you should re-assess what you hear and why when Max speaks. Firstly, everyone within and without F1 had talked about how Mercedes has this habit of downplaying their chances only to come out swinging. But then of course it has now shown itself to be the case that they truly are struggling.

      I thought Max was very diplomatic in saying that it did not excite him to lap LH because they simply do not have the pace, so it is not like it was an accomplishment to lap LH. It was just what it was, due to Mercedes happening to have missed it with this car so far. My goodness to think what you would have said if Max had actually said ‘yeah that was really fun and satisfying.’

      1. @robbie

        “Honestly, I did enjoy seeing Max lap Hamilton, after everything that happened last year”

        You can keep telling yourself whatever you want but the the truth is Max and Jos are taking it personal and are enjoying Hamilton’s pain.

        1. That’s a quote from Jos.

        2. @amg44 That quote from Jos does not mean Max took any great satisfaction in passing a car that was worthy of being lapped, even if it was LH. Oh I’m sure everyone at RBR has been enjoying seeing Mercedes struggling this year for a change, and I don’t think it took Max lapping LH to change that. Max already knows LH is not looking to be competition against him. His diplomatic answer was the correct one and you are making an assumption that they are taking it personal. I doubt they are dwelling on the past and it suffices for them to see Mercedes where they are, and as I say it didn’t take for Max lapping LH to make that any clearer. I’m sure Max would have far more enjoyed passing a competitive LH than one who is obviously handcuffed with his car. But sure, perhaps he had a smile on his face when he did it. That doesn’t mean he rubbed it in his face afterwards.

    4. Trolls like yourself you mean ;)

    5. Trolls do not need any external feeding.

  2. Slow all year is like saying VER didnt complete half of all races this year. Pretty stupid statement after 4 races.

    1. But both statements are correct. How can they be stupid then?

      1. to talk about all year after less than 20 percent of the races is kind of stupid

        1. @romtrain Merc have been slow in 100% (read: all) races so far this year (read: all year).

          A bit out of the ordinary to use “all” rather than “so far” but they both can be used.

          By the way, how many languages do you speak fluently?

          1. Ver speaks english good enough to know what he says. And he didnt finish half of the races throughout all the year.

          2. @romtrain good enough isn’t the same as have a master in English. Max is beter then me in English but his way of translating is kind the same as mine so it’s really what he wants to say that Mercedes is off so far this year. All or not has the same meaning for me and doesn’t do anything for me. (and al the other Dutch)

          3. @MacLeod all doesnt mean any ;-)

          4. @romtrain – I get it – Max said something so you have to log on and criticise him…. Fair enough. You’ve picked a really weird thing to complain about this time though!

          5. @petebaldwin Yeah, to state someone is slow all year is totally normal when not even 20 % of the races are done. Strange logic.

        2. It’s pretty obvious he means all year up to this point. It’s a pretty common use of English. And he’s right. Despite reliability issues, Red Bull has been a front runner at every race. There is nothing controversial in anything he’s said.

          1. @romtrain Max English is fine and this is exactly how you would translate what he would say in Dutch into English.

            Have a bit of tolerance and don’t always assume the worst in people. Verstappen said nothing out of the ordinary.

    2. Why is it stupid? I thought it was an honest assessment – what did I miss? Or are you one of those that just hates Max and will therefore find fault with anything he says?

      1. Emma you didn’t miss anything. Max was only diplomatic when he was asked basically if it was ‘pleasurable’ (my word) or exciting to lap LH, after which he basically said no. Perhaps @romtrain didn’t hear the actual interview, for anyone that did imho would have understood immediately that he was just being kind and diplomatic about Mercedes’ and LH’s plight.

        1. That is what i hear and saw too….

        2. I suspect the question was asked in the hope of receiving a response which could create headlines and controversy. I am pleased that Max avoided that pot hole and we can move on from the tensions of last year.

    3. Noframingplease (@)
      25th April 2022, 10:28

      @romtrain interesting you even bother about grammar mistakes of a guy who’s racingcraft is, according your opinion, no much better than Nikita Mazepin. Did little Max smashed all your LH toys?

      1. I got no LH toys, dont know what you are playing with to have such a thinking.

        Neither did I say his racecraft is like Mazepin. Thats orange folks behaviour to compare leading F1 drivers with ones like Mazepin.

        1. Stop being so polarizing Roman (or @romtrain, whoever you are)

          It’s not a nice personality feature to have. Just enjoy the racing.

          1. Which part of my comment are you refering to?

  3. A fair and complete assessment of his race, the performance of his team, his team mate and some kind words from his championship rival. And the headline this website distills from all of this is an honest answer to a question anyone who’s been watching 5 minutes of this season could come up with. Good for the clicks I suppose..

  4. Interesting that he still calls it Sprint Qualifying

  5. The only thing that Hamilton did right was choosing a yellow camera

  6. Gotta stave off these comments. Too much salt.

  7. One lump, or?

  8. Geez, was Hamilton ever this bad? Struggles of Ferrari Vettel even look good compared to this.

    Whatever is up with that car Russel is still quite handy with it.

    Until this season I was under the impression, that Hamilton is amazing at adapting to poor handling and getting the most out of poor machinery.

    But it seems more like Hamilton is great at maximizing a great handling race car. Now when the car is a dog, he just struggles more than a teammate.

    Maybe all those years Russel was stuck with questionable chassis prepared him well for this?

    I still don’t see why Lewis is so consistently slower than George.

    Maybe George is half a second faster than Lewis? That would be quite an amazing price performance ratio.

    1. @jureo George certainly seems quicker than Lewis right now, or certainly more comfortable with the car. But the one minute (or whatever it was) difference in Imola was mostly just how bad Lewis’ race went. George spent nearly 50 laps with nobody around him, just going along as he liked. Whereas Lewis (as the director was very keen to show) spent most of his afternoon behind someone, dropping back to recharge then attack (and failing) again and again.

      Still, the only reason he was there anyway is because of qualifying and a terrible first lap, which I guess rests with him at the end of the day. I’m surprised he turned the teams offer of slicks down two laps before everyone pitted, he may as well have risked it, he wasn’t getting points by doing what everyone else does.

      1. Well, he looks like Ricciardo at McLaren, Vettel final year at Ferrari.. And in general all around slow.

        There is no Hamilton in that Hamilton right now.

        And for several races now.

        Here is some sacrelige, he looks like Schumacher at Mercedes. Driving around P10, while his young George Rosberg is near a podium.

    2. Great career up sum from 4 races of 1 of his 15 seasons in F1

  9. Max’s assessment is correct and his weekend was close to flawless. It was incredibly easy for him as he got literally no challenge and the only thing he needed to do was bring it home.

    If Rbr have got their gremlins sorted on the engine it could be a pretty straight forward season for them, as all they need to do now is gradually bring more performance.

    Well done to Rbr in general top notch job all round.

    1. Ferrari haven’t felt the need or felt it was smart to bring any upgrades in a sprint weekend. Redbull did gamble and it obviously payed off. I am sure Ferrari will bring upgrades next year or the one after that. Things could go back and forth all year.

      1. Next race obviously next year would be almost a year too late.

      2. @w0o0dy I am not sure but Red Bull upgrade was slimline weight reducing parts losing 10kg.

        1. nevermind they plan that for Miami.

        2. Redbull lost about 4kg of the rumours are correct.

  10. Indeed unsurprising, although Hamilton could’ve avoided getting lapped had he been able to drive the entire (or nearly) race in clean air like Russell.

  11. Well, max lapped Lewis last year at this track too :)

    1. Lol true!

  12. A question asked by an interviewer with one purpose: try and create some drama. I like that he speaks his mind regardless (right or wrong). But there is no drama here.. all you’ve got is a spicy sounding headline.

    and now I typed a comment here.. so I guess it all worked out according to plan :-X

  13. “It is what it is.”
    didn’t feel any particular satisfaction

    Where is the fire? I bet he enjoyed it even a little bit. I get it that drivers need to be mediafriendly but it is like these new generation of drivers behave a bit too basic. Last year Verstappen gave some hot comments about the title fight but it was more about Horner and Toto rather than Verstappen and Hamilton. It was a bit weird when Sainz was like “I’m stuck” and didn’t blame Ricciardo at all.
    I don’t want drivers to be like Schumacher to Couldhard in Spa but it seems like the direction is towards more friendly and more “whatever” than drivers shouting through radio and giving “suck my balls” comments.

    1. You can just wait for Drive to Survive to come out, seems more your style.

    2. I think Max only cares about winning races and championships, and could probably care less about cars he’s not fighting with. Whether he laps a Haas or a Merc is probably pretty inconsequential for him as long as they move aside quickly and don’t hold him up.

  14. José Lopes da Silva
    25th April 2022, 13:00

    Lapping top drivers has been, for decades, a measure that excites more the fans than the drivers themselves. There is some kind of competitive and sporting stigma associated with the idea of the backmarcker, so it seems a sign of decadence when we see a Champion or a Winning driver being lapped. In some cases it can be a sign of true decadence, and I think in the early decades of the sport most top drivers did not want to get into such a position.

    But the sport implies now longer careers, and the fight to be in best cars, so that aspect faded from driver’s minds.. I can’t remember the last driver who actually cared in any way for that.

    Alonso lapped Schumacher in Hungary 2003. It was a tiny scandal. The first time a Penta World Champion was being lapped or about to be lapped since Fangio in 1958. But the drivers shrugged shoulders. And Schumacher went on to perform that 2004 season. An he finally retired in 2012.

    Alonso remembers way more vividly his battles against Schumacher in 2005 and 2006 that lapping him in Hungary 2003.

  15. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
    25th April 2022, 18:30

    Max just having a little fun at Merc expense.

  16. Not a big Max fan, but even when his words are as diplomatic as possible, he gets piled on by his haters. The same goes for innocuous comments from LH lately too. Fans who care more about hating or loving a specific driver aren’t really motorsport fans. They’re more like reality show fans.

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