Max Verstappen believes the secret to Lewis Hamilton’s success is the fact that the entire Mercedes team revolves around making the Briton a winner, even teammate Valtteri Bottas does his bit for the cause.
In an interview with Ziggo Sport, the Dutchman said of the World Champion and his team, “Lewis was ready in his first year already, just because he had a really good car. But now he also has less pressure.”
“He has a very good car and his teammate is not there anyway. When the whole team is all about you, it’s a lot easier. And the better your car is, the easier it is again.”
With regards to Bottas, the facts acts are this season he has was humiliated. He scored no victories while his teammate romped to 11 of them
He also had to suffer the indignity (and all the related head stuff) of relinquishing a win for Hamilton’s benefit, when in retrospect it was really not necessary as the title was decided way in advance of the finale in Abu Dhabi. At the time Mercedes being pedantically over-cautious to the benefit of their star driver in the #44 car.
If prior to this season there were any doubt that the #77 car was number two at Mercedes, then 2018 made it patently clear that it was. Now, when a rival points this out so blatantly, it will hurt Bottas because it is also a pretty damning indictment of his rep among the current drivers and they do talk.
It also comes at a time when the Finn needs all the confidence to take on Hamilton again next year and knows that another below-par season and young Esteban Ocon will be only too keen to jump into his seat.
Mercedes and Hamilton have the capacity to raise their game to another level constantly and when required, which is why Verstappen has set them as the benchmark, “It is not about being ready or not ready.”
“You just have to have the right material. If we can just do a bit better and then do a season like Lewis just had then it is already a lot better for the championship.”
On the topic of next year, Red Bull’s first with Honda, Verstappen revealed, “The engine for next year is a completely new one. It has been on the test bench for a while but it’s a bit of a wait. I think the prospects are good compared to what we had until now. It is definitely a lot better.”
After a wobbly start to the 2018 season, Verstappen raised his game considerably in the latter half and it would be fair to say that he demolished his teammate Daniel Ricciardo whose form went mysteriously AWOL after he announced he was Renault bound.
With Ricciardo defecting to Vichy, Pierre Gasly has been cocked and loaded into the Red Bull double-barrel chamber alongside Verstappen who clearly knows his first job next year is to emulate Hamilton and destroy his new teammate.
In other words turn Gasly into another Bottas. Interesting times lie ahead.