Max Verstappen: Lewis Hamilton hasn’t had the strongest teammates

  • PA Sport

Max Verstappen believes Lewis Hamilton’s dominance of Formula One has been helped by teammates who have failed to test him.

Despite Hamilton’s mixed form – he heads into Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix with only two victories from his last seven races and finished a distant fourth in practice here – the British driver remains on course to cruise to his sixth world championship.

Hamilton, 34, has been partnered with the likes of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, the trio holding four titles between them, during his career.

But following Rosberg’s departure from the sport – days after beating Hamilton to the 2016 title – the mild-mannered Valtteri Bottas was signed as Hamilton’s new teammate.

Bottas has won five times in that period for Mercedes. In contrast, Hamilton has triumphed on 28 occasions.

Barring a complete disaster, a third straight title will follow this year, too. Bottas was also ordered to slow down at the last round in Singapore to protect his teammate’s position, while at this race here last year, the Finn was ushered out of Hamilton’s way to allow the Briton to win.

“Over the years, Lewis hasn’t had the strongest teammates,” Verstappen told the PA news agency. “If you have the right car you can beat everyone.

“Lewis is an amazing driver, and one of the best to have raced in Formula One. But he has also had the best car, and when you have the dominant car, the only one you are really fighting is your teammate.”

Hamilton has said he would welcome Verstappen joining him at Mercedes.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary

Hamilton’s boss Toto Wolff is a keen admirer of the Dutchman, who turns 22 on Monday.

But the Mercedes team principal, still scarred by Hamilton’s toxic rivalry with Rosberg, has already moved to re-sign Bottas for at least another year.

Verstappen remains under contract with Red Bull until the end of next season, but would he relish going up against Hamilton?

“If it happens, it happens, but it is not something I am dreaming of,” he replied.

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