“Were never so fast”: sober Hamilton marvels at Red Bull
“Were never so fast”
Disillusioned Hamilton marvels at Red Bull
03/20/2023, 8:12 p.m
Lewis Hamilton actually knows his way around fast cars. After all, the Briton dominated Formula 1 for years with Mercedes. But even he is at a loss for words when it comes to this year’s car from competitor Red Bull. So that the fight for the title remains exciting, hopes are now pinned on an internal team duel.
Actually, this double victory no longer needed classification. Red Bull’s performance spoke for itself, Max Verstappen’s race to catch up was painful for the competition. Lewis Hamilton put his finger in the wound again.
“When we were fast back then, we were never that fast,” said the record world champion, referring to his previous dominance with Mercedes: “I think this is the fastest car I’ve ever seen.” This is especially true when compared to the rest of the field. “I don’t know how or why, but he (Verstappen) passed me at tremendous speed.” Hamilton therefore made no attempts to defend himself against the reigning world champion. “I didn’t even bother to block because there was a massive difference in speed,” explained the 38-year-old.
So the RB19 is even superior to the Silver Arrow of the time? Red Bull even stronger than the factory team that won everything seven years in a row? After just two races of the new Formula 1 season, that’s the impression. It could be a very one-sided year – but maybe at least one hard-fought stable duel will cause some drama.
The last hope for excitement?
On Sunday evening after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a scene from the winner’s room gave hope. Verstappen, second, and his teammate Sergio Perez, first, faced off like two people who want to spend as little time together as possible. Little was said, but Perez still had this question: “Didn’t they tell you to keep up the speed?”
Because both pilots had received this instruction in the final phase of the race in order to conserve the technology. However, Verstappen turned up the heat on the last lap and set the fastest lap of the race when Perez had already crossed the finish line in front of him. That earned an extra point, which in turn gives the World Champion a championship lead – which Perez would otherwise have held for the first time in his career.
In his first two years alongside Verstappen, the Mexican was too inferior to a real challenger. However, he is not a water carrier either, too much happened last season for that. Verstappen refused a team order in the fall and made vague allegations on the radio, “you know what he did,” roughly.
Perez wants to ‘fight for the title’
It was probably about a supposedly intentional accident earlier in the year with which Perez Verstappen stole pole position in Monaco. Tensions have flared up between the two since then and Perez clearly doesn’t want to be number two anymore.
That showed his face in the winning room, and he says so openly. The case with the fastest race lap has to be analyzed again internally, he warned, and overall: “I’m in this team to fight for the title. That’s the only reason.” At least in Jeddah he effortlessly kept Verstappen at a distance in the final stages. However, the world champion had already caught up from 15th place after a technical defect slowed him down in qualifying.
In any case, without a strong Perez it could be even more one-sided this year, that’s how superior the Red Bull is. The English Daily Mail attempted a biblical comparison. “Oh dear,” wrote the tabloid, “it’s threatening to be the most one-sided fight since Herod fought the innocent.”