For this generation of Formula One fans, there’s no greater name than Lewis Hamilton. The British driver has won a total of seven World Driver’s Championships with Mercedes. Of the twenty driver-manufacturer teams that compete each year, Hamilton and Mercedes have been the team to beat since 2014.
At the moment, Hamilton is tied with Michael Schumacher for the greatest number of driver championships. Though Hamilton has 99 podium wins versus Schumacher’s 91, it’s the season-ends World Driver Championship title that he needs to bring home.
In recent years, there hasn’t been a close competitor to challenge Hamilton. With elite skill and access to Mercedes’ latest technology, other drivers haven’t stood a chance. Only Nico Rosberg was able to push past Hamilton back in 2016, which has led some fans to grow bored with the series.
With one driver-manufacturer team commanding so much power, there was little action. For years, punters used free bet promotions to back dark horses, while fans of Red Bull and Ferrari waited for their side to overtake the competition. However, there’s been no luck in the race to end Hamilton’s lead.
That is, until this year. Max Verstappen, a Belgian-Dutch driver for Red Bull, is close on the heels of Hamilton right as he’s attempting to best Schumacher’s record. Right now, Verstappen has 187 points, only eight behind Hamilton’s 195. And he’s spent most of the year in front of Hamilton.
The race is on — and it’s tighter than ever. Will Verstappen be able to defy the odds?
Battle of the Greats
Hamilton isn’t just one of the world’s greatest drivers. He’s also a ruthless competitor, which translates to wins in a sport where athletes must fight for razor-thin margins to win. He’s a quick decision-maker who isn’t afraid to bend the rules when he’s unsure of an outcome, whether skating by track rules or pushing his car to the limit.
In other words, Hamilton has natural skill, access to Mercedes’ leading technology, and one of the most focused mindsets in the industry — plus he’s not afraid of risk. Verstappen has the same mentality, driving for Red Bull instead of Mercedes.
Recently, Netflix’s Drive to Survive series has provided fans an extra look into the life of Formula One drivers and manufacturers. The series highlighted Hamilton’s ‘ask for forgiveness, not permission’ mentality, as well as Verstappen’s keen sensitivity.
Though some viewers criticized Verstappen for what they perceived to be snappy feedback during live races, the driver’s ability to communicate is actually one of his strengths. As mentioned above, minuscule changes offer drivers a competitive edge, and Verstappen’s ability to communicate openly and effectively helps his Red Bull crew support him better.
His no-nonsense attitude closely mirrors the drive and focus of Hamilton and may be what helps the driver pull ahead of his English competitor this year. Though Hamilton is battling to pass Schumacher’s record for Driver Championships, Verstappen is looking to nab his first title, which will be pivotal in establishing himself as Hamilton’s competitor.
Chatter Builds Around Norris in 3rd
Though Hamilton will be remembered as a Formula One legend in the future, his English compatriot, Lando Norris of McLaren, could be remembered right beside him. Hamilton, at age 36, is close to the end of his career. Norris, age 21, and Verstappen, age 23, are likely to battle it out to become the greatest of their generation.
Norris is already making history with McLaren. Earlier this year, Norris became the youngest Brit to ever stand on a podium after finishing third in the Australian Grand Prix. Not only does he represent the future of British drivers, but he’s also a huge asset for the McLaren team.
Most manufacturers in Formula One have their seasons; McLaren is coming off a tough decade. In fact, their last championship came from Hamilton back in 2008 when they won the Manufacturer’s World Championship. Norris is now their clearest shot at a comeback. He stands in third place with 113 points.