F1: The Age of Lewis Hamilton is over as Max Verstappen steps in

The Age of Lewis Hamilton is now over, and the Age of Verstappen has begun; and there is no one who has the power to halt that change in power dynamics. Verstappen is simply the most talented race car driver we have seen in this century, and maybe ever.

Lewis Hamilton had his day when Mercedes provided him with a car so good, none of the other drivers had a chance.  Mercedes outspent all teams by tens of millions of dollars every year and gave Hamilton a superior car. An unfair advantage, akin to cheating in today’s age of cost caps.

Hamilton no longer has the best car, and he is unable to win. Maybe he could if he was still 22 years old, but now at 37 (38 in January) the reflexes slow and age begins to creep in.

Lewis Hamilton knows in his heart Verstappen is the better driver, but would never admit it publicly.

At just 17 years and three days, Verstappen burst onto the F1 scene in late 2014 for the Toro Rosso team at the Japanese GP, but it was not until 2016 that Red Bull promoted him up to their ‘A’ team, which is when he took his first F1 win amid 7 podiums.

Following his maiden Formula One win, at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda described Verstappen as the “talent of the century.” He said that despite Lewis Hamilton driving for his Mercedes team.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner stated that “Verstappen is the best driver Red Bull have ever seen: “I have no doubt [Verstappen is] the best we have seen on one of our cars, in terms of outright raw ability and commitment. He’s the best driver we’ve seen.”

Former Formula One driver Gerhard Berger echoed Jenson Button’s recent comments, anointing Max Verstappen as the “Formula One driver of this era with the most raw talent.”

Speaking to Sport1, Berger ventured: “When it comes to raw talent, Max Verstappen is the most talented of all. But it’s not just about raw talent, it’s about the whole package. That means it’s not just about setting the fastest laps but also to win a race. And not just [about] one race but many and eventually a championship, and championships.”

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso commented that Verstappen is the standout driver in Formula One, declaring the Red Bull star to be “one step ahead” of everyone.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team. “Max is one step ahead of everyone”

Verstappen has accumulated a significant fan base from around the world, but in particular from his home country of the Netherlands. Grand Prix events have dedicated Verstappen grandstands with thousands of travelling Dutch fans, boosting ticket sales particularly for European races such as Belgium, Austria and Hungary.

During the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix, Honda’s Formula One managing director Masashi Yamamoto praised the Verstappen supporters, saying that ″in the six years I’ve been involved with Honda F1, I’ve never seen such a great turnout as at the Dutch Grand Prix. “It was like being in a football stadium and when Max crossed the finish line first, the whole circuit colored Orange.

His performance in Suzuka on Sunday, on his way to winning the Japanese GP on a very wet track, was an Ayrton Senna-like driving display that made all the other drivers look like rank amateurs.

Biblical weather, and he dropped the field by 27 seconds in 26 laps of racing.

The race was shortened to a 2-hour limit and just 28 of 53 laps, but in the 26 laps running under the green, Verstappen gapped Perez and Leclerc by 1-second per lap. Total domination.

Just like Senna did in the rain.

Senna was deemed the best driver ever in the rain, but Verstappen drives as well as Senna in the rain.

Verstappen takes the outside line to grab the lead from Leclerc on the first race start. Leclerc had enjoyed the superior launch, despite the limited grip, to draw alongside polesitter Verstappen and the Ferrari even pulled ahead by half a car length. However, the Dutchman kept his right-foot in it through the first corner to hold the line and decisively retake first place. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

He now has 12 wins in 18 races this season, and is on pace to break the record held by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, of 13 wins in a season.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 and Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari F1-75 battle for track position on lap one during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 09, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Verstappen inches ahead around the outside

It is beginning to look like Verstappen is a better driver than even Lewis Hamilton, who the British think is the best F1 driver ever with the most wins and the most poles in history.

But Verstappen is on pace to destroy Hamilton’s records – all of them.

A superstar with the world at his feet.

Verstappen just turned 25 years old last weekend and has 32 wins to Hamilton’s 14 at that age.  However, Verstappen has another 51 weeks at the age of 25 to pad his record pace of wins at the young age of 25.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing is presented with a birthday cake for his 25th birthday by Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 30, 2022 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images,) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Should Verstappen have another dominating year next year like he did this year, he would be on pace to have over 40 wins at age 25 to the 14 Hamilton amassed by 25.

That has Hamilton so worried, he is going to stay in F1 another 5 years to win as many races as he can to delay the Dutchman from destroying his legacy.

Time will tell how it all will play out, but the next 5 years should be fun to watch as two of the all-time greats go at it tooth and nail.

Mark C. reporting for AutoRacing1.com

Hamilton vs Verstappen Cumulative Win Record by Age

Age Hamilton Verstappen
18 0 1
19 0 3
20 0 5
21 0 8
22 4 10
23 9 20
24 11 31
25 14 32 and counting
26 17 TBD
27 21 TBD
28 22 TBD
29 33 TBD
30 43 TBD
31 53 TBD
32 62 TBD
33 73 TBD
34 84 TBD
35 95 TBD
36 103 TBD
37 103 TBD


Mark C. reporting for AutoRacing1.com



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