Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff disagree about Max Verstappen

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of 2023 season

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Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have disagreed over Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s current strength. Hamilton stressed the Red Bull was the fastest car he has ever seen and is even more dominant than Mercedes’ era at the top.

However, Wolff suggested Mercedes were “just as strong” in their peak when they secured eight back-to-back Constructors’ Championships. Hamilton was passed by Verstappen on lap 12 of Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with the Dutchman breezing past him on the main straight.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “I have definitely never seen a car so fast. When we were fast, we were not that fast. It is the fastest car I have seen, especially compared to the rest. I don’t know how, but he [Verstappen] came past me with some serious speed and I didn’t even bother to block him because there was a massive speed difference.

“Everyone wants to see a close battle, but it is the way it is. It is not my problem, it is not my fault.”

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However, Wolff believes Hamilton was wrong in his assessment and that Red Bull are only on par with Mercedes’ previous success. The Austrian commented: “We have had those years when we were as strong.”

While fans are frustrated at the apparent lack of a title challenge, the Mercedes team principal felt Red Bull’s success should not be dismissed. He added: “It is a meritocracy. Even if it is not great for the show that the same guys win all the time, it is because they have done a good job and we haven’t.

“We shouldn’t down-talk it, because I remember hearing questions like that in 2014-2020, and what makes the sport so special is that you need to work hard to win and you deserve it as a matter of fact.

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“Entertainment follows sport. It is maybe not good from the commercial side but it is what makes F1 so special.” Mercedes’ pace disadvantage to Red Bull was highlighted later in the race as Verstappen cruised past George Russell.

The 25-year-old was unable to defend as Verstappen simply drove past on the run to turn 37. Martin Brundle slammed Mercedes as a “midfield car” with David Croft suggesting it was “F1 versus F2”.

The Silver Arrows were the third-fastest car in Jeddah with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin third quickest behind the two Red Bulls.

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