Red Bull’s Max Verstappen seems to have ended Lewis Hamilton’s dominance at Formula One, at least so far into the season, with the Dutch driver displaying superb form in an increasingly fast car.
Verstappen has won the past two races and leads Hamilton 4-3 for wins this season heading into Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, at Red Bull’s home track in Spielberg. It's the same circuit where Verstappen drove to victory from pole position last Sunday, with Hamilton lagging behind.
Verstappen is the championship leader and is posing a major threat to Hamilton, who trails him by 18 points after eight races of a so far captivating season.
“Max is driving with great maturity and consistency. We’ve just got to keep turning the screw,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “The Styrian Grand Prix was our strongest and most complete performance so far.”
Red Bull has won four straight races, three for Verstappen and the other only won by veteran Sergio Perez at the Azerbaijan GP because Verstappen’s tire blew a few laps from the end while he was leading.
After seven years of Mercedes dominance, including six of Hamilton’s record-equaling seven F1 titles, Red Bull is reemerging as the force it was from 2010-13 when Sebastian Vettel won his four world titles.
Now, after winning every drivers' and constructors' title since 2014, Mercedes trails on both fronts. Red Bull is 40 points ahead in the constructors' contest. Not since 1991 has a car with a Honda engine won this many consecutive races.
“They’ve definitely made some big steps and we’ve not really got an answer for it,” Hamilton said, adding “I’ve got confidence in the team that we’ll somehow find something.”
Hamilton is aiming to overtake Michael Schumacher and stand alone among F1 greats with eight titles. But he needs to find a way to stop Verstappen’s rise.
The 23-year-old Verstappen, already credited with being the youngest driver to win an F1 race when he 18 years and 228 days, has tallied 14 GP wins. He would have had far more if Red Bull was more competitive in previous seasons.
In that time with Red Bull lacking speed and dogged by reliability issues, only Ferrari briefly threatened the Mercedes dominance when Vettel led at the halfway point of the season in 2017 and ’18, only to fade away.
Other than that, it’s been Hamilton all the way except for when his then-teammate Nico Rosberg won the world title five years ago – and then retired.
Hamilton has long been the most consistent driver: Brilliant in qualifying with a record 100 pole positions and dominant in races with a record 98 wins.
Now Verstappen is starting to impose himself.
He has placed in the top two positions in nine of the past 11 GP races going back to the end of last season, winning five of them.
Hamilton has finished top-two in eight of the last 11 races and won five.
With his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas lagging behind in fifth place overall in the standings, it seems only Hamilton can stop Verstappen.
But Verstappen knows who he's up against, and he expects Mercedes to hit back.
“People will learn from what they didn’t do so well,” said Verstappen, who needs one more podium to reach 50 in F1. "I expect everyone to be closer as this is usually what happens when you have back-to-back races at the same track.”
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.