F1: Verstappen has gone conservative, Hamilton now the aggressor

–by Mark Cipolloni–

When Lewis Hamilton had a superior Aldo Costa designed car at his disposal, he never had to take unnecessary risks when battling another driver on the track, knowing full well he could pass them when a safer opportunity arose.

Such was his speed advantage during 8 straight years of Mercedes domination.

On the other hand, Max Verstappen, driving the inferior Red Bull at the time, had to be more aggressive. That was never more evident than during the 2021 season when Verstappen wrestled the world driving title away from Hamilton with some very aggressive, at times questionable, passing maneuvers.

Then in 2022, and now again in 2023, Verstappen has the better car and the roles have become reversed.

Hamilton was the aggressor in Melbourne, getting his elbows out in Turn 1 and pushing Verstappen wide to take 2nd place away from the Dutchman at the start.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, leads Lewis Hamilton (on his right) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, and the remainder of the field during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday April 02, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Lionel Ng / LAT Images)

It was Verstappen who took the mature, conservative approach and let Hamilton have the corner, figuring he had all race to get him back.

And he did just that after the first Red Flag restart.  He waited two laps, schooled Hamilton and immediately gapped him by 2-seconds in one lap.

Hamilton was left gasping for air, such was Verstappen’s pace when he wanted to press the issue.


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