Hamilton: I’m more impressed with Newey and his team

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 31: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes shake hands in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 31, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton praised Red Bull for the “fantastic” job they have done this year in Formula 1, the Mercedes driver heaping praise on Adrain Newey but, notably, neglecting to mention Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull RB18, another masterpiece led by Adrian Newey and his team at Milton Keynes, proving Verstappen and Sergio Perez with the choice car of the field appears to only be getting better, particularly in the hands of the World Champion.

So good that Verstappen has won nine of the 14 races this far, and has a huge points lead ahead of his home Grand Prix, where he starts favourite in the wake his midpack to victory wins in Hungary, in July, and Belgium last Sunday. Impressive no matter how you look at it.

A second F1 championship could be his on or before the Japanese Grand Prix; ditto Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, their first title since 2013.

Speaking ahead of the race weekend at Zandvoort, Verstappen’s home race, seven-time F1 World Champion, Hamilton was asked if he was impressed by the Red Bull #1 driver this season, to which he replied: “I’m more impressed with Adrian Newey and his team. I think the team, it is a great team.

“They’ve generally had really great cars. I think they used to have really high ride height and more drag than before, but I think they’ve realised this year that their engine isn’t actually slower than others. They’ve done a fantastic job.”

A decade or so ago, Hamilton sang a very different tune about the “drinks company”

NOIDA, INDIA - OCTOBER 27:  Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (C) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme with second placed Mark Webber (R) of Australia and Red Bull Racing and third placed Lewis Hamilton (L) of Great Britain and McLaren following qualifying for the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 27, 2012 in Noida, India.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Mark Webber; Lewis Hamilton

In 2010, Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel began a four-year period of dominance in F1 while the Briton was at McLaren, prompting him to say at the time that they were “just a drinks company.”

But time, and probably his greatest challenges during his dominant years, Red Bull’s Verstappen is now their second F1 World Champion and also the man who ended Hamilton’s incredible streak of title wins.

Clearly, Hamilton now has respect: “Anything I would have said in the past about the team… I didn’t mean it in a negative way.

“A few years ago I said something about them being a drinks company and it was really just highlighting that you would bet on a car manufacturer more than them. But they’ve proved me wrong, and they’ve done a great job.”

So much so that in the 2022 F1 drivers standings Verstappen has a massive 93 points lead over Red Bull teammate Perez, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc five points further down; the Blues top the F1 constructors’ table by 118 points over the Reds.

Lewis is full of praise for Adrian Newey and his team

The Mercedes driver elaborated: “Adrian obviously did his thesis on ground effect cars at university so it’s no surprise what he’s done this year. It’s impressive. But I believe in the young guns in my team that we’ll catch up.

“They’ve clearly got the aero balance great, they’ve got great ride quality, it doesn’t ever have any problems with bumps,” Hamilton told Sky F1.

“When you’ve got a stable platform like that… his understanding has definitely been an advantage to them and they’ve done a great job,” concluded Hamilton, carefully neglecting to mention or refer to Verstappen’s incredible season.

While last year’s contentious title decider did sour the battlefield between Hamilton and Verstappen, what cannot be denied is that the Dutchman is the standout performer of the year

While there have been question marks about the manner in which he won his first crown, the second is a huge statement by Max to address the doubters and critics.