British Grand Prix – What Max Verstappen (Red Bull) owes Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

British Grand Prix - What Max Verstappen (Red Bull) owes Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

A year after this famous crash in the first lap of the British Grand Prix, the relationship has calmed down. Perhaps because Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton don’t really rub shoulders on the track anymore. The Red Bull and the Mercedes no longer belong to the same world and it sometimes seems that the Dutchman and the Englishman are not racing in the same category as in Imola, last April, when the reigning world champion had dismissed his former rival in one round.

The Batavian did not appreciate taking a 51 G shake against a row of tires at the bottom Copse, victim of a somewhat hazardous attack from his opponent. And even less the awkward celebration of his victory, while he was in the hospital for a series of examinations, fortunately reassuring.

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“When a guy is in the hospital and the other is waving his flag (note: the Union Jack) as if nothing had happened, that he pushed a guy into a wall… and the reaction of the team (Mercedes), on top of that. That’s not how you celebrate a win, like they got it. That’s what I found really disrespectful.”was offended Verstappen, at the end of the indignation.

“Improved Mercedes, boosted morale… Hamilton can win in his backyard”

An unconscious legacy

All in the euphoria of his eighth victory in his national Grand Prix – a new record – Lewis Hamilton had not heard from him right away. And it was probably in retaliation that Max Verstappen had shown no concern for him when the two found themselves in a gravel pit near Monza, two months later. A wheel of the Austrian single-seater had still hit the Briton’s helmet.

Their roads separated in Abu Dhabi last December. Max Verstappen is leading the 2022 world championship, Lewis Hamilton is sailing 88 points behind the Dutch world number 1, but he has not become an opponent like the others. “Super Max” rides with his opponent’s legacy, building on all the lessons of his fights against the #44 Silver Arrow pilot. He may not realize it exactly, or find it normal. As in his time Lewis Hamilton had not realized what the tension maintained by Fernando Alonso at McLaren had taught him.

“Russell dominating Hamilton in qualifying is the big surprise at the start of the season”

“He really built on his experience of last year”

Max Verstappen is not the type to enter into this kind of introspection and you have to listen to his teammates to realize this turn he has taken, if not the transformation he has completed. From impulsive beginner in 2015 to accomplished champion capable of repeating his exploits without dividing the paddock or the community of supporters.

“He did a crazy job last yearloose Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing in the podcast “F1 Nation”. I’m thinking in particular of races he’s driven under immense pressure like Austin, who is coming out at the end of his campaign. He has really built on his experience from last year, and you can see that thanks to this title, he drives with even more maturity.”

Still imbued with this all-Mercedes resentment, Chris Horner will say no more about the level to which his protege had to climb in 2021 to reach the firmament, and stay there. At the start of the season, he liked to praise his champion’s aggressive style, but that was probably an abuse of language. Certainly, there are the excesses of Silverstone and Monza, but around that so many moments that showed Adrian Newey the new dimension of Max Verstappen.

“I include Max in this category”

The 63-year-old Englishman, who has rubbed shoulders with the greatest drivers at Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, from Alain Prost to Sebastian Vettel, via Mika Häkkinen, knows very well where his foal is. “Max is at the topassures the head of the Technical Office in Milton Keynes, in the columns of The Evening Standard. “He’s usually very calm, very measured. He has sensational reflexes and it’s a pleasure to work with him.”

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