Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have contested some of the most iconic battles on track in the past ten years in F1. Since the Red Bull driver's emergence in 2016, he has been touted as the successor to the seven-time world champion.
Hamilton and Verstappen took their rivalry to the next level in the 2021 season when they produced one of the best championship fights between the two drivers in F1 history. The season finale in Abu Dhabi 2021 not only marked the end of the Mercedes driver's dominance in the sport but also started the reign of Max Verstappen.
After the first three races of the 2023 season, the Dutch driver has cemented himself as the top driver in F1 and the one to beat this year. Interestingly, Hamilton was ahead of Max Verstappen's pole position count after making his first 166 appearances in his F1 career despite the Dutch driver's spree of records since the start of his career.
Let's compare some stats of both drivers after the 166 races in their careers:
Age: Hamilton 30-25 Verstappen
Titles: Hamilton 2-2 Verstappen
Wins: Hamilton 33-37 Verstappen
Poles: Hamilton 38-22 Verstappen
Fastest laps: Hamilton 20-22 Verstappen
Podiums: Hamilton 71-80 Verstappen
"He wants to destroy the people around him, his closest competitors" - F1 pundit on Max Verstappen
F1 pundit Tom Clarkson mentioned that Max Verstappen is different from Lewis Hamilton in one aspect and their attitude towards victory is quite different.
On the F1 Nation podcast, Clarkson said:
“He doesn’t just want to win. He wants to destroy the people around him, his closest competitors, and a classic case was Saudi. He started the race 15th, he drove a brilliant grand prix to finish second, and yet he was really disappointed after the race and came out with the line, ‘I’m not here to finish second.' His mentality is unique."
"Yes, Lewis Hamilton is hugely competitive, of course, he is – ditto Charles Leclerc – but there’s a ruthlessness about Max that I don’t see in the other guys."
AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost also mentioned that Max Verstappen was built differently, adding:
"Moreover, with all his talent and extreme driving skills, he also has the necessary mental strength. He has everything a champion needs, just like Fangio, Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton."
It will be interesting to see if Verstappen is able to match or break Hamilton's records in the sport.