Hamilton says Verstappen driving ‘on his own’ - and Red Bull need both drivers to take fight to Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton has revealed his sympathy for the plight of Max Verstappen this year, saying that the Dutchman currently lacks the team mate support that might allow him to consistently take the fight to Mercedes in 2020.
Despite Mercedes having unquestionably the strongest car in 2020, Verstappen has made a habit of hanging on their coat-tails this season, taking podiums at the six races he’s finished in 2020 – including the top step when he won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – while team mate Alex Albon has failed to get up to speed as quickly, having finished in the fourth place that should, theoretically, be rightfully his just once this year.
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And after Verstappen once again followed the Mercedes home at the Belgian Grand Prix in P3, as Albon finished sixth and behind both Renaults, race winner Hamilton weighed in on the current driver situation at Red Bull.
“What you’ve got to look at with the Red Bulls is, I think they’ve got a very good car,” said Hamilton. “I think people downplay it, but they’ve got a very, very strong car, and Max is doing a great job with it. Unfortunately, both drivers aren’t there like me and Valtteri [Bottas] are there and that makes it harder for them.”
Hamilton went on to appear to compare the situation at Red Bull to when he was partnered with Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren in 2008 and 2009, with Kovalainen – who recently took a surprise eighth place in our analysis of the fastest one-lap drivers of the past 40 years – having failed on the whole to sufficiently support Hamilton in the races.
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“I experienced it many years ago when I was at McLaren and I was the driver that was always at the front and didn’t have a team mate backing up,” he said. “So equally, you don’t get the constructors’ points, but then you can’t play strategy on the cars that you’re racing against. So [Red Bull] have got that – [Max is] kind of there on his own.”
Hamilton’s comments add to a growing sense of pressure surrounding Albon, who’s failed to beat Verstappen in either a qualifying session or a race at any point this year – with the Thai driver having taken just 48 points to Verstappen’s 110 this year.