Hope vs Glory?
Austin 2018
US Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton identifies the driver most likely to take his F1 crown
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Nov 2017   |  6:35 am GMT  |  879 comments

In every generation of Formula 1 there is a standout driver, who becomes the benchmark for the others and he is always on the look out for the young challenger who will take his crown away.

Inevitably one day a new challenger comes along and eventually takes over. It’s happened with kings and princes in history and likewise in sports.

The interesting time is the early stages of the overlap, when the established guy spots the challenger in question.

I saw it clearly in 1991/92 with Senna when he clocked Michael Schumacher. He couldn’t help clocking him, to be fair, as Schumacher made it his business to get in Senna’s face from the early stages of his F1 career.

These were the days when drivers would take each other off the road (a la Senna and Prost) and play games of chicken at 200mph; it was a man’s game and a fresh-faced young Schumacher wanted to show he wasn’t scared.

At one test he so enraged Senna that the great Brazilian came over to the Benetton garage and tried to hit him.

Schumacher dominated for some time and seemed to have a number of pretenders to his throne, like Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, both dubbed the ‘next big thing’ by the media, but neither of whom fulfilled that brief.

Schumacher knew that they wouldn’t and instead identified Fernando Alonso as the driver who would give him a hard time. He noticed him mainly during 2002, when Alonso was a test driver for Renault, having done an initial race season with Minardi.

Alonso looked on course, when he beat Schumacher in 2005 and 2006, but his career took a wrong turn with McLaren in 2007 that he has never truly recovered from.

Alonso noted Lewis Hamilton in 2007, he couldn’t miss him as his team-mate and although Sebastian Vettel won four consecutive titles with Red Bull during a window of time, it is now Hamilton who sits atop the pyramid looking down for the challengers.

What I have noticed progressively during this season, especially when the drivers are together behind the scenes and in the press conference room after qualifying sessions and races, is that Hamilton has identified his challenger and he put that into words recently.

“I’ve got that Max just sitting there waiting to take it,” he said. “So I’ve got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him.”

It has been notable how much Hamilton’s respect for Max Verstappen has grown across this season; you can tell it in the body language. Verstappen, like Schumacher, announced himself to the other drivers last season as very talented, but also an aggressive driver who wasn’t afraid to mix it with the best and there were complaints about his tactics, like moving to block in the braking zone.

But this season he has progressively come of age, beating Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying and as the season has gone on, he has raised his win tally to three. Now all he needs is the car for next season and he will be right there challenging, as Schumacher did to Senna and as Alonso did to Schumacher.

Although he trails Ricciardo in points, it is hard to judge this season between them as both drivers have had quite a bit of unreliability, especially on the engine side, that has hit their chances on race day; Verstappen earlier in the season and Ricciardo more recently.

Career being well managed
The Verstappens cleverly moved recently to shore up Max’s position at Red Bull by offering his services until the end of 2020 at a significantly higher price, which Red Bull’s management accepted and locked him down, ending speculation of a move by Mercedes or Ferrari. At 20, Max has time on his side and there was an opportunity to extract a high price – he can move to Mercedes or Ferrari once Hamilton and Vettel have gone.

Short term, that has Verstappen de facto lead driver in that team and complicated Ricciardo’s life. Although the pair get on fine, it is clear that Ricciardo is not committing to the team for the long term and that his best chance of becoming world champion lies elsewhere.

Sky did a story with Verstappen in Brazil where he spoke about this challenge, noting that it would come down to how strong the Red Bull package is next season, “At the moment he (Hamilton)is the world champion, I’m still not in that position and I hope I can be next year,” said Verstappen.

“We need to wait and see how strong we can be as a team.”

I have huge admiration for Sebastian Vettel and for what he has achieved in F1, but this year has also highlighted some flaws in his game, as the 2014 season did when he was tired and unable to deal with Ricciardo in the first hybrid turbo cars.

In Verstappen you see all the tools and above all the racer’s instinct and aggression, all maturing and Hamilton has rightly identified where the trouble is going to come from.

Ferrari had a wonderful car this year but came up short due to execution, driver mistakes and a lack of ruthlessness. They are sure to challenge next season, but the generational shift will be between two drivers who see a lot of themselves in each other.

What do you think of this rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen? Do you agree that Max is the next challenger or does it lie somewhere else? Leave your comment in the section below

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Funny that the Dany Ric dominating the 4 time champ Vettel in his first full Red season wasn’t a focus of this article considering its similarity to the Senna Schumacher Alonso comment. And considering Danny has the 3 overall grid penalties of the season beaten (if thats the right word) only by the Honda powered duo. I think Riccardo’s a real threat.


You are funny @Ragnar. Do not only mention those first copple of lines of yhe article

“Max is just driving brilliantly this year and knows how to get the most out of the car in every race.”

Hamilton will have to ‘raise his game’ to beat Verstappen in 2018! (another article)

The Honey Badger is over 40 points ahead of Verstappen in the drivers’ championship however, mainly as a result of the 20-year-old finding himself on the receiving end of his Renault engine’s poor reliability record over the summer.

i hope we can close this subject now because Ragnar let’s go to Abu Dhabi and we discus other twist and turns. Did you know Force India are against the new motor formule after 2020. Suprising not!!! with there Merc engine lol


@Hito I didn’t mention it because it didn’t seem relevant. For the latter part of the season Max has driven brilliantly. At the beginning and middle his choices have been suspect such as Spain and Italy.

They have had the same amount of engine failures.

Max has had 3 more crashes that took him out. People can argue over those but they happen in racing. The one crash that took Daniel out was Max’s fault.

Dan has had two more grid penalties that affected his points tally compared to Max.

Since the United States race there’s also the nice little part where Red Bull have given Max the new faster Renault engine for the rest of the year and left Dan with the old one.

They are about even in the bad luck stakes. At the end of the day Dan is going to beat Max on the points table. That’s it. That’s the yardstick by which the drivers get measured each year.

Also looking forward to Abu Dhabi though in my time zone I’ll be up in the middle of the night.



@ ragnar..if you want to re assess the ’17 results then how about this. Ricciardo has suffered, until now, 75 grid drop positions compared to Verstappens 35….meaning just how hard has DR had to drive to get as far up the ladder as he did. To further even things up, any points Verstappen accrued in the Hungarian GP should be reduced out as well. Considering that then the difference is not all that great. Verstappen has lifted his game. He’s fast and furious and he will do well if he can maintain his form. By the same token Ricciardo will be no pushover and if Red Bull treat them equally then we may see some spirited driving between them.


Grid drops at the back of the field does not count heavier. So your math is wrong or useless to prove something.


Sounds like a fair assessment.


@ragnar: this is the link you ask for
Good luck with reading it. Btw i think MV and DR are the best copple on the grid.


Interesting article. Short and related to qualifying IMO.

“The Aussie has been consistently outrun in qualifying lately by the Dutch prodigy who also put two race wins under his belt in the last four races.”

Daniel did not actually says the words “I’ve been outperformed by Max”.

But thank you for the link.


@ragnar: go to the website of f1i.com English version. News of 6/11. Good luck with readen it.
The power balance can switch next year but i think LH is right. Btw i like DR


@ragnar forget Briatore do you care what DR says: no excuses for being outperformed by Verstappen


The admission was in the context of qualifying, not race craft.


I’d like to see a link to an article where Dan says he was outperformed by Max.


It was in relation to qualifying.


@f1now: 2 x times fourth and fighting for a podium with a torro Rosso. Overtaking Nasr outside Blachimont (Spa) for overtaking of the year and choosen rookie of the year etc. 17 years and first year in F1…… no mirracles????


One of the headlines of F1i; Ricciardo: No excuses for being outperformed by Verstappen and Ferrari wrong not to chase Verstappen – Briatore
@Ragnar please note that Verstappen out Q DR by a distance and Verstappen was infront of DR during all his 7 DNF’s. one of them you say a collision was also a clutch failure (Austria) Maybe next year the power balance will shift again you never know but i think you can not, without tears in your eyes, deny that MV is very special


Verstappen was in front in all 7 DNF’s. In all three crashes he was in front for a few seconds because he was higher up the grid. It wasn’t like he outraced Ricciardo.

I concede that max has out-qualified Dan because he simply has. That’s simply the truth but statistically it’s by thousands of a second. There’s not a huge amount in it.

Now Max is a good driver obviously but he’s not the Messiah. He is a very naughty boy because he put’s himself in situations where it’s not going to work. But that’s natural when you are young. When he learns a bit of caution he’s going to be absolutely formidable.

He does have the advantage at the moment of being in a car that outclasses all but two other cars. Some of those young drivers in the midfield might just give him a run for his money if they had a comparable car.

Briatore – don’t care what he says.


but statistically it’s by thousands of a second. There’s not a huge amount in it.

There’s a lot of misinformation in quali figures.
See motorsport.com for a complete list.. Average Max is 0,35 faster


15seconds in qualifying at Silverstone! It is as you say, look at the nummers/scoringboard.
Hope you can put your dislike of VER to the side or else you are going to have some miserable F1 years to go.


I don’t dislike Verstappen at all. He’s a great driver and by all accounts a pretty cool guy.


You know we didn’t see mirracles from Max at Torro Rosso like it was with Schumacher in Jordan & Benetton and Alonso on test with Minardi or Vettel in Torro Rosso.
Lewis also could drive only 100% winning car otherwise we see him blaming a team, a partner. So, I wouldn’t say Lewis is a right person to spot someone else.


Fernando Alonso disagrees.

“Lewis is one of the greatest drivers in our sport and he showed that, especially in McLaren times when they were struggling. For example in 2009 that car wasn’t very good and he was still winning races. Those kind of performances put him at a very high level.” – Fernando Alonso, 2017


It’s interesting to note that the Verstappen fans who insist he is behind Daniel only because of his 7 DNF’s fail to take into account grid penalties.


7 DNF‘s :
4x Car failure : BAH, CAN, AZB, BEL
3x collision:


5 DNF’s :
4 x Car Failure : AUS, RUS, US, MEX
1 x Collision
2 Grid Penalties BRI & BRA

Max had 2 Grid penalties this season.

Italy he had 5 places but Dan had 20. No advantage to Dan. But Dan beat him.
In the US he did start behind Dan but Dan’s engine blew up. No advantage to Dan.

In Britain and Brazil Dan was disadvantaged by Grid penalties in comparison to Max. He was always going to finish behind in the points.

Once again though I know Max’s fans won’t accept it. Look at the scoreboard. Dan wins.


Your opinion, but not shared by many.
That whole post I can write the other way around.

Qualifying (very important for a driver): VER 13 – RIC 6
Of the races they both finished MAX finished 5 in front of RIC, while RIC finished twice in front of VER.
Of the DNF’s VER was driving in front of RIC 5 times, while RIC rode in front of VER twice.

It are the points that count, but everybody knows where the difference comes from and that VER outdrove RIC with quiet a margin this year.

BTW VER got 10 places in ITA, and it was because of the puncture (VER vs MAS) that RIC beat him.

I like RIC very much as driver and personality, but he found his match in VER and next year will be crucial for RIC’s future.


1. I don’t care who shares my opinion and who doesn’t.

2. Qualifying is not racing.

3. Daniel and Max have had the same number of engine failures.

4. In two of the races that Max finished further ahead, Daniel had grid penalties that placed him at the back of the pack ruining his chances of getting ahead of Max. That leaves one race where Max finished ahead of Daniel. That was China where he finished less than 1 second ahead of Daniel.

5. You are correct. Max got a 10 place grid penalty in Italy. You’re correct that Dan beat Max because Max got a puncture and it was his own stupidity that caused it. If Max hadn’t been impatient and waited a few seconds he could have taken Massa without taking himself out. Dan managed not to hit anyone and go from the back to 4th. No excuses there for Max.

6. Did you count that Dan was ahead of Max when he was taken out in Hungary? That was Dan’s one accident this year and Max caused it.

7. In two of the races that Max was ahead in but didn’t finish he was ahead because he qualified higher, not through any racecraft. He didn’t make it past the first corner. He put himself in the wrong place because he doesn’t see past the first lap. Singapore was very obviously NOT Max’s fault as anyone can see Kimi ran over Max’s back tyre and Vettel then tried to Sandwich him.

8. For the last three races he has had a more powerful engine than Dan.

9. I absolutely concede that Max outperformed Dan at Malaysia and Suzuka.

10. I will not concede that Max outdrove Dan by quite a margin this year because the facts don’t support it.


@Ragnar…that was a very good summary and i agree with almost all your points. I would just add that some of the strategies have also been marginally questionable. Verstappen has certainly upped his game and so has Ricciardo. My only fear is that in ’18 we will see more emphasis on one side of the garage if everything that Horner has said actually gets implemented.


If F1 survives after 2020 and Ferrari still stay, we can get to see Max in Red.
3 engines a year lolz, imagine you can make only 3 substitutions all through the season in a football league.
We should walk away from this V6 soulless, yawn fest and start a new V12 one.


would we even be talking about Hamilton were he not driving a car that for an entire rules era has been untouchable? I rate Nico Rosberg as an Eddie Irvine …. in the right car at the right time and the cards fell his way. Hamilton’s talent is certainly unquestioned but the deifying of him is way out of line. How many seasons has Louis raced in a car clearly NOT the class of the field and won? As for Max, he’s truly like Michael in that you give him a car that is competitive he will find a way to win.


How are we defining class of the field, surely the car which is class of the field is the one which won the WCC, so perhaps 2007-2013 which were seasons in which Lewis drove a car which didn’t win the WCC.


Until Hamilton can step out of a top car and move to a team and rebuild it like Schumi and company did with Ferrari, I can not put Lewis in the same category as Schumi. Leave Merc and rebuild a team around you and see what happens.


Yes just think Schumi took that team that nobody had heard of…what was it called.?…oh yes Ferrari. They hadn’t won anything for years till Michael came along…….bit like Mercedes before Lewis turned up really.


Ferrari had not won a championship for 16 years prior to Schumacher, Brawn and Todt joining ferrari. Also I believe that it was Schumacher , Rosberg and Brawn that developed the Merc that has been so dominant in this hybrid era. Lewis knew he had a championship winning car when he moved from Mclaren. That being said LH has skills no question. I would like to see him extend himself.


hey, can I be at least notified WHY my comments are not being accepted anymore, so I can stop wasting my time commenting, its really rude of you.


Give Ricciardo the car and he will wipe the floor with everyone.


Wow, that’s LHFC talk!

Before you spew fan club talk like that you have to have it approved by Kenneth or Cheesypoof, which incidentally are the presidents of the DRFC and FAFC, respectively.


I’ll keep that in mind in the future. Thanks.


Really? I like Ricciardo, and he is out-scoring Max this year, but Max has outperformed him.


Sigh. No he hasn’t.


Hey, just my opinion. I’m comfortable with mine; are you with yours?

Let’s see what the Team Principals poll says in the week after Abu Dhabi.

Given a straight up choice between the two, I don’t see any TP who would pick DRic over Max.



I’m quite comfortable with my opinion. Max won’t be available until 2021. We’ll see whether Ferrari or Mercedes take Dan in 2019. Both seem really interested in him.


I sincerely hope that you’re right especially if the renault is no better than it has been for the last four years…a dud.


Clearly Lewis is correct in his observation that Max Verstappen has the potential to succeed him. As he relishes a challenge and will be working on further improvement, Max may have to wait a little longer. He has speed in abundance and time to hone his skills in order to succeed. Others on the grid will be just as ambitious, can they manouvre themselves into a winning team at the right time?


Having read many of the comments on this page it’s quite pathetic how so many of these article discussions degenerate into tit for tat arguments over how Driver A is better than Driver B and worse, how one person can ‘prove’ that B is really rubbish (regardless of their record compared to all other drivers) because of some obscure statistic (“oh he lost a race once in 20xx to driver Z so clearly he’s useless) or because they don’t like the drivers friends/family/driving style/attitude/background/choice of tax haven/helmet/favourite flavour of crisps or whatever. Honestly, who gives a toss what a driver does away from F1, it has no real relevance as to how good a driver they are. It might have relevance as to how nice person they are, but frankly that’s not why anyone watches any sport is it?
Then of course There’s always C who is clearly the all time greatest and would blow them both away because he drove ‘real’ cars back in the day. The uncomfortable fact is that it is virtually impossible to quantify exactly how good any driver is in overall terms because of the effect of such factors as the car relative to other cars, team orders (or not), team strategy, teammate or random events (pit top foulups, mechanical failures, computer problems, punctures, random debris, etc etc). These things are not always measurable and they differ not just from year to year but often from race to race. People have tried to measure it, scientific papers have been published that attempt to quantify who is the best driver based on all manner of algorithms, or experts have been consulted, and sometimes we even get any idiot with a keyboard to vote. The results are never the exactly the same but are often similar enough to indicate who is near the top. We all know who most of the best drivers are, even if some of us spend inordinate amounts of time trying to argue otherwise. I goes some folk just have issues to work through.


Just Thinkin: lots of complaints about f1 not being loud enough, tires etc. F1 will be dead in the next 10 years. Electric cars etc, why would major companies invest in dying tech, f1 will only become less and less road relevant, and it has never been road relevent.– where will it go?. And lets face it, the racing has been less than exciting for a decade.


You know there sure has been many comments here. Someone said said they never got my response to a question.

I’m not exactly sure what the question was but I will try to give the answer.

If racing were easy than a kid could do it. No wait a minute….. One sure can but it’s not easy. I think if the driver knows a bit about the cars from a technical standpoint they can be a massive help to the teams of people that build the cars to help them make the car faster and suit their driving style and maybe get a winning car.

I think Vettel helped Ferrari do that. I don’t think it suits Kimi as well as it does Vettel. Maybe Hamilton did that after the summer break as that car doesn’t suit Bottas. I always assumed Rossberg did that in the past for Mercedes and Hamilton just could adapt to what he was given. Who knows?

It seems Max is capable of doing this even though to me he is still a kid. You can have all of the software and wind tunnels and engineer’s you like but good feedback from the driver I think is more important than ever. You have to be fast and be physically trained and probably a little bit of a nerd too with these complicated cars these days.

Younger people may be more nerdy too. Maybe Max is the one for everyone to fear now. I think he is the best kid in F1 now. Whether Hamilton or Vettel can continue to battle for championships until 2020 is a big question as the Red Bulls seem to have the best chassis and also Max seems to now have the one reliable engine that Renault has and if it proves reliable then they can make more.

I guess I need to stop speculating and wait and see. We will have to wait and see. That’s why I watch. Theory and reality are two different things. We can’t know the end to this story because it is yet to be written.

I hope that answers the question. Have a nice day😄


Rosberg took his crown and he cannot win it back from as Nico retired as reigning champ.

But Lewis has moved on, let it go, become friends with him, always mentions him in a good light as a challenger, no bitterness there…… LOL.


Talent and determination aren’t enough. The comaprison with Alonso is right; Alonso post 2007 — luckless. Max too is luckless, therefore will remain titleless.


Vettel has to beat TWO Mercs, not one. Hamilton lost out a few times against rookie Bottas right from the start, until Lauda started talking only about Lewis’ championship from Hungary onwards. They were 17 pts apart…
I remember the talking here, when Bottas was linked to Ferrari 3 years ago. The tenor was: A worse version of Kimi.
In 2017 everybody praised Bottas suddenly. It was similar with Rosberg, who always lost out to Webber when they both finished.

But it’s okay. F1 is on a downhill and it is a british ruling sport event in every aspect so hype is more than needed.

But remember what Helmut Marko said about Verstappen who did TWO GP distances during testing on ONE day: “When Vettel got to F1 in 2006/2007 this wouldn’t be possible. It is easier for 18 years old to get to F1 nowadays.”


F1 a British Ruling sport? With American owners and a French regulator……


Stroll seems to counteract that statement somewhat.
According to Villeneuve one of the worst rookies in a long time.


Still, he is the only 18 YR in a much tougher car than that of the previous few. He has been rocks and diamonds, but deserves one more season to impress.

Ricciardo Aficionado

So is this any more than Hamilton indulging in some headline grabbing PR splurge. He’s singling out Max huh? Took a while for him to catch up. We’ve been reading about it for the last year and a half.
Ham’s just decided to jump on the mainstream media, one size fits all, American liberty digestible version of F1 events. What about Ocon? Ham should be worried about him because he might actually get in a Merc and have something to challenge with.
What about Vettel? Ran him pretty close this year and but for a few mistakes might have won it… Won what?? Suddenly Hamikton has the generational title of “King of F1”?
I think Alonso might disagree with that royal title. And Vettel. I know Grosjean would. DR for sure. Ocon, Sainz, Perez, Hulk… I don’t think any of them would bend the knee. So Ham singles out Max at the exclusion and diminution of the rest of the field, most of whom would do a far better job of maintaining some balance in the kingdom of Merc so that one man couldn’t rule them all.
What about Max anyway? It’s a good ploy to define your nearest competition as someone who’s going to be running either the “third” worst or “worst” PU for the next three years. After that Ham will be old enough to lose gracefully without any tarnish on his reputation.
So Max is next gen… How about we get “current gen” in a competitive car.


Keep you’re eyes closed as long as you want! Just a little hunch.. Max 20 y.o. 3 wins.. Dan 28 y.o. 5 wins.. go figure out!

Ricciardo Aficionado

Thanks for the completely irrelevant response.


Great rant Ricciardo, keep it up!

Ricciardo Aficionado

I’ve said my piece on this matter. I’ll leave the ranting to the British press. There’s going to be plenty of it now that they’ve got a 4xWDC, all time great to bang on about.
You’ll love it Tim, it’s all going to be pro Ham.


Ra, unfortunately for you and your pals, there really is no reason for it to be all neg! At least you can try and redress that balance with your comments on this site……

Ricciardo Aficionado

I think the negativity is the balance. I don’t remember Fleet Street claiming Vettel to be an all-time great after his four titles. They said they were easy titles. Even Schumacher’s standing was questioned because of his questionable tactics and the team orders at Ferrari. If Ham wasn’t British there’d be a lot more questioning of his Merc titles. I mean let’s face it, it was a race of two for three years.
I think there is still room for some debate over how good Hamilton is but it seems here and other outlets have already made their call. At least here the dissenters can have their say.


RA, I don’t read the tabloid press, the standard of ‘journalism’ on display in those rags is do poor it is a total waste of time reading them.
I wonder what Lewis would have to do to for you to admit that Lewis is an extremely goid driver? He won his firat title in his second year in F1, in what has to be the closest battle ever, and yet the dissenters say he ‘barely beat Massa’, he won titles rwo and three much more comfortably, but apparently they don’t count either because he had ‘the most dominant car in history’ neatly forgetting that his team mate had the same car of course! This years title was won against a car that many experts believe to have been superior, but again the dissenters just refuse to believe that the Merc is any less dominant than it was between 14 and 16! Balance is fine, debate is a good thing, but facts can’t be argued with.


max is surely the driver of the future but Ocon will cause him some trouble this guy is awesome driver.


I don’t get it James.? All this talk about the driver and who will take over from Lewis. The only thing I agree with is they are all great drivers but it’s the car that makes the difference. You drive a merc you win the championship prior you drive a redbulll you win the championship and so on and so on. So who will take over from Lewis? The next driver who gets in a car which is the best performer full stop. Max is a good driver how well did he go in the last race in his deadbull? Not so quick. Is Max better than Ocon or Alonso? Put them in the same car then we can talk otherwise as it always has been its the car, car, car. And on that pretty sure Riciardo smoked them all in the top gear reasonably priced car. Only one driver can say he challenged the car manufacturers and won. The most influential F1 driver of all time Brabham.


These were the days when drivers would take each other off the road (a la Senna and Prost) and play games of chicken at 200mph; it was a man’s game and a fresh-faced young Schumacher wanted to show he wasn’t scared.

Those days are gone, these days you get drivers complaining when a competitor bangs wheels at 20 mph, saying what about the children watching, we need to set an example.


I’m sure Senna would have been perfectly content with another driver purposely driving into him.


Senna probably would have punched him, still the sport is getting softer for sure

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