Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of 2023 season
Lewis Hamilton has been warned by Ferrari legend Gerhard Berger that Max Verstappen could be set to break his all-time record of 103 wins in Formula One before the Dutchman eventually retires from the sport. Verstappen has won the last two Drivers’ Championship titles and is seemingly poised to add a third at the end of this year following his near-perfect start to the current campaign.
The Red Bull ace has already registered four wins in 2023 and has not finished lower than second at each of this year’s six races so far, putting him firmly on course to wrap up the end-of-season honours once again. Berger has insisted that he sees no other outcome apart from Verstappen clinching the title and even went as far as to suggest that the 25-year-old will shatter all of Hamilton’s existing records, including the one for the most Grand Prix victories of any F1 driver in history.
“I trust Verstappen to break all existing records in Formula One, including Hamilton’s 103 wins,” Berger told Kronen Zeitung. “He said today that it is not important for him, but that will change.
“I read recently that Verstappen and [Sergio] Perez is a repeat of Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost. Yes, Verstappen is in that league and Perez is doing his best to stay close to the Dutchman. Still, to me it looks like Verstappen is going for it on his own.”
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It would be silly to bet against Verstappen winning another Drivers’ Championship title later this year given his dominant start to proceedings, with the Dutchman the overwhelming favourite to claim the spoils barring a sensational fightback from Red Bull team-mate Perez, his only genuine rival as things stand. However, only time will tell if the Mexican driver will be able to spoil Verstappen’s party after underlining his desire to stay in the hunt for as long as possible after winning in Azerbaijan last month.
“There is a very high level of respect between Max and myself and the whole team,” said Perez. “The level we are operating at means we are pushing each other really hard. We obviously want to beat each other and I want to win the championship just as much as Max wants it.
“I feel we are very similar in the way we approach or think about sport so I don’t think he will change. We will be fighting each other like we did today, as much and as hard as we possibly can, but there is a high level of respect between us and our team. There are plenty of races coming up, but we have to make sure when we are able to win a race, we grab it with both hands.”
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However, it has been claimed by Mercedes simulator driver Anthony Davidson that Perez will be incapable of toppling Verstappen unless he emulates Nico Rosberg by taking a more ruthless approach against his superior team-mate, with any failure to do so leaving the Drivers’ Championship title in the hands of one man only.
“You’ve got to be more Rosberg in 2016,” said Davidson on the Sky F1 Podcast. “I was always told by my team bosses that I was too nice and I think they were right. I think that’s what made me a much better sports car driver. I was more of a team player, always was.
“That’s what you’ve got to do and I think now it’s time for Sergio to stop being Mr Nice Guy. As much as it might hurt to be the guy he doesn’t want to be, he’s got to make sacrifices and decisions that might go the way his family doesn’t want him to go. He’s got to get under Max Verstappen‘s skin. He’s got to annoy him, this is his moment. It might only be his one chance.”
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