Don’t tell me Formula 1 is boring… Yes, we’ve seen Hamilton dominate, but ths time it is simply Verstappen greatness


Through Lewis Hamilton’s dominate period in Formula 1 with Mercedes, where he won six world titles in seven seasons, many struggled with the predictable domination week to week and questioned the benefit of it to the sport as a whole.

A similar feeling is immersing Formula 1 as we speak, with Max Verstappen on a tear that could potentially turn into the most dominate run in the history of the sport.

However, things are different this time. In Verstappen, we are witnessing the potential GOAT of Formula 1, a driver so relentlessly dominant not only against the rest of the field, but also over his Mexican team mate Sergio Perez.

The same could not be said of Mercedes during its glory days, with even journeyman Valtteri Bottas chiming in on the act and securing ten wins across four seasons.

Amidst Hamilton’s stellar run from 2014 to 2020, German Nico Rosberg claimed the 2016 championship for Mercedes, and the brand would win eight straight constructors titles that extended into 2021, when Verstappen finally broke the individual streak.

Add Rosberg’s 20 wins between 2014 and 2016 to Bottas’ 10 after he took the seat and Hamilton’s astonishing 81 victories during the same time frame and the full dominance of the Mercedes car is clear. A total of 111 wins from 138 races.

Bottas also claimed 16 pole positions, Rosberg 26 and Hamilton a whopping 67 during the period, for a total of 109 successful qualifying sessions.

The numbers are reflective of a car that drove like a rocket ship and one that only poor reliability or incident could stop.

To the untrained eye, it may seem that something very similar is occurring at Red Bull as we speak, with the team entering 2024 off the back of three straight drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

Red Bull has been unstoppable for three seasons. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

However, the data actually reflects a different story, with the Austrian teams’ success actually a direct result of the genius driving one of the cars, rather than an unbeatable pair of machines.

Perez is a competent man and capable of a good day every now and then. He has had two of those to start the 2024 season, yet across the three and bit seasons of Red Bull’s latest period of domination, the Mexican has managed just five wins and three pole positions.

Lined up alongside Verstappen’s 46 wins since the start of the 2021 season, as well as his 31 pole positions, Perez’s achievements lie on one side of a chasm that exists between him and the performances of the 26-year-old Dutchman.

Across his last 68 races, Verstappen’s 46 appearances on the top step translate to 90.2 per cent of the wins achieved by the sport’s dominant team. In terms of pole’s, Verstappen’s 31 to Perez’s three makes rather comical reading for those suggesting the Red Bull dominance is purely car based.

Frankly, that insults the best in the business.

For comparative purposes, Hamilton won 73 per cent of the Mercedes wins across the seven-year period he drove with Rosberg and Bottas and just 61 per cent of the pole positions earned by the team.

In short, despite Bottas and Rosberg being adequate team mates, the speed and efficiency of the cars they drove reflected them in a far better light than perhaps they deserved. The same cannot be said of Perez, whose seat remains under pressure whenever a poor weekend or two are strung together.

Lewis Hamilton won often at Mercedes in a car that was simply unbeatable. (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Moreover, the number of times team orders were used to advance Hamilton at the expense of the other two cannot be underestimated, and if Bottas in particular had been allow to race against him fairly and more often, the Brit’s percentage wins for the team could potentially be even lower.

Toss in Hamilton’s flagrant disregard for the rules on occasion- remember the practice starts- combined with his penchant to bully on the track – just ask Alex Albon about those incidents in 2019 and 2020 and the man from the Netherlands continues to come out on top in discussions around his eventually legacy in the sport.

Despite the Sky Sports Formula 1 commentary lathering on about Hamilton and what are certainly wonderful achievements as a seven-time world champion, the vehicle he drove between 2014 and 2020 was unlikely to be beaten if steered at an even competent level.

The modern day Red Bulls have certainly been fast, yet Perez’s numbers pale to those of the Mercedes’ not driven by Hamilton during the period of dominance.

The question of whether it is the car or Verstappen is one I’ve debated with a few and it is of course, a combination of the two. Yet the time gap between the current world champion and his team mate is nothing like we saw during the Mercedes era.

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Those thinking otherwise might be best to watch the Dutchman in action and appreciate that Formula 1 may have never ever, by the time Verstappen’s career is all said and done, seen a driver eclipse his talent, determination, skill and subsequent dominance over not only the sport but his own team mates.

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