Max Verstappen: I never said L

Image via @F1

Max Verstappen: I never said Lewis Hamilton wasn’t special

Max Verstappen has backtracked on his comments about Lewis Hamilton not being special but insists part of the Brit’s success is down to the car.

Max Verstappen: I never said L

Image via @F1

Max Verstappen believes Lewis Hamilton is “one of the best drivers ever” to have raced in Formula 1 but, he adds, the Brit has been helped to his success by the cars he has raced.

Verstappen throws ‘special’ U-Turn

Last year, asked for his thoughts on Hamilton following his fifth World title, Verstappen downplayed the Mercedes driver’s success.

Instead he told Formule 1 that Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso or his then Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo “could just as easily be champion with such a car”.

This led to headlines claiming Verstappen said there is ‘nothing special’ about Hamilton.

A year later, and with a sixth World title now in the bag, Verstappen was again asked his opinion on the British racer.

He told Autocar: “I didn’t say it like that. He is special. For sure.

“Everybody has their own style, and I didn’t say that Lewis is nothing special. He’s definitely one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1.

“But, like I said before, you are very dependent on your car, so for example if Fernando [Alonso] was in that car, he also would have won championships.

“Sometimes, you’re lucky in a way, because you join a team and then suddenly they become so dominant, and you win your championships.

“But sometimes, like unfortunately with Fernando, you go to teams at the wrong time and you don’t win, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a good driver. With Fernando, I feel he is one of the best also.”

Paying the price for straight talking

But while Verstappen may not have besmirched Hamilton’s talent, he did Ferrari’s reputation earlier this year.

In the midst of the engine scandal, he accused the Scuderia of “cheating”.

Asked about Ferrari’s lack of pace following the FIA’s decision to issue a Technical Directive that rivals feel clipped Ferrari’s wings, he told the world “that’s what happens when you stop cheating”.

Ferrari have since come out saying they won’t even consider the Dutchman for a 2021 drive as Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri says they will “not give credibility to a 22-year-old kid”.

Verstappen admits his mouth at times gets him into trouble.

“I’m probably too honest and too straightforward,” he said. “I’m not a robot outside the car, and I’m happy about that; it’s just the way I was brought up.

“Sometimes it can work against you, but I see the positives of it.”

Wants to stay with Red Bull long-term

Verstappen, though, says he’s not fazed about Ferrari’s thoughts as he wants to stay at Red Bull long-term.

He made his debut with Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso in 2015 and has since go onto take eight wins with the senior team.

He has been linked to a move to Mercedes in 2021 but says, at least for now, he wants to continue with Red Bull.

“I’m really happy where I am at the moment, and I really want to win with Red Bull. They brought me into Formula 1, so there was this kind of loyalty to them.

“I think we’re over that phase, but still I’m really happy where I am. I really enjoy working with them; it’s a great group of people.

“I feel at home, which is also really important for a driver, that you feel appreciated. Everybody is really motivated so, for me, I don’t want to change.”