Max Verstappen does not necessarily want to talk about a rivalry between him and Lewis Hamilton. The Red Bull Racing driver indicates that he really wants to beat Hamilton on the track, but that the relationship between the two drivers off the track is excellent. In addition, Verstappen does not necessarily have to take the records that the seven-time world champion has to his name. The Limburger does of course hope that he can defend his title in the coming years.
The 2021 title battle not only created tension on the track, but also off it. Verstappen and Hamilton fought on the circuits, while Christian Horner and Toto Wolff had several heated altercations off the track. The rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes remains as strong as ever. First Red Bull had to close the gap to Mercedes, but now the situation has turned 180 degrees and Mercedes is now the hunter. The rivalry between Verstappen and Hamilton seems to have calmed down at the moment.
The drivers don’t meet each other on the track that often anymore. Only in the United States did Hamilton briefly appear to pose a challenge to Verstappen in 2023. The Dutchman is fine with the current situation with the seven-time world champion. “I don’t need that kind of rivalry,” Verstappen honestly admits in an interview with The Times. “Of course we want to beat each other, but honestly, once we’re in a private situation, we’re just normal guys.”
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Hamilton’s records do not harm Verstappen
Verstappen has taken over from Hamilton in recent years. Hamilton managed to win six world championships with Mercedes between 2014 and 2021, but the change in regulations meant that the German racing team was no longer competitive enough. Verstappen won his first title in 2021 and that was the starting signal for his dominant period in Formula 1. In 2022 and 2023, the Red Bull driver won a total of 34 races, putting him in third place in the rankings with drivers with most Grand Prix victories.
Hamilton is at the top of that list and Michael Schumacher is between the two current Formula 1 drivers. Verstappen still has a long way to go to overtake his 2021 title rival. The Dutchman would not mind if the record remains in Hamilton’s name. ‘If it happens, it happens. But you have to be lucky to be in a great car for a longer period of time. You are very dependent on the material you have.’
“When I won my first title, I said: everything that comes after that is a bonus because realistically in Formula 1 I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve,” Verstappen continues. The ultimate dream of Verstappen and his father was the world title. The driver has now managed to extend this twice. ‘Being on the podium, taking pole position, winning a championship; I dreamed of achieving those things in Formula 1. From now on I just try to stay at the top,” said Verstappen.