The 2022 Formula One season has been missing a defining feature of last year’s action: an on-track duel between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Last week’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone offered arguably the most exciting racing of F1’s new era, and Hamilton was a huge fan.
The close and tight battle for second place between Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc was perhaps the best demonstration of what the new regulations and a decent circuit can offer. In the end, Pérez emerged on top, with Hamilton finishing third and Leclerc fourth.
Since Sunday, Hamilton has been particularly eloquent in singing the praises of racing and the skill and fairness in the fight between Red Bull’s Perez and Ferrari’s Leclerc.
However, Verstappen, his title rival from last year, responded to Hamilton’s comments with a mixed comment about the Briton’s racing style.
“I think it’s quite good that, at 37, you can still learn to hit an apex,” Verstappen told Dutch media on Thursday, Autosport reports.
“He’s learning, so that’s positive. It is also good for younger drivers to know that you are still learning when you are 37 years old,” Verstappen added.
Hamilton and Verstappen had numerous on-track clashes throughout the 2021 title campaign, with the Dutchman emerging as the eventual victor in Abu Dhabi. The most controversial and violent of these was at last year’s British Grand Prix, where a high-speed right-hander incident at Copse ended with Verstappen in the barriers, later taken to hospital.
Hamilton would go on to win the race again despite the incident and a subsequent penalty. It is this crash that Verstappen appears to be indirectly referring to, as Hamilton took the inside line but failed to reach the apex in a fuel-laden heavy car, understeering against Verstappen’s car on the outside at speeds in excess of 170mph.
Having enthusiastically described Sunday’s race as back to his karting days, Hamilton again praised the action last weekend and said he was not bothered by Perez’s defense, despite the Mexican’s actions being noted by the stewards.
“The race between us was great. I would have done exactly the same [as Sergio]. I don’t think there is anything wrong [about the racing] to take from the weekend,” he said.
Racing resumes this weekend in Austria, with Verstappen on his way to a second world title. Hamilton is 88 points behind and sits in sixth place in the standings. Even his best hopes for the season are simply to win a race.
However, for the first time this year and after 10 rounds out of 22, Hamilton believes it is a possibility.
“There really is potential in the car … with a little more digging and hard work, hopefully we can get closer,” Hamilton said Thursday.
“I really think we can win a race this year.”