Hamilton and Leclerc respond when asked if F1 is in the ‘Verstappen era’

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc are determined to prevent Formula One from slipping into the ‘era of Max Verstappen’ with the Dutchman currently unstoppable in the Drivers’ Championship. Verstappen secured his second consecutive world title earlier this month and has since taken his 2022 tally to 13 wins. One more would make him the most dominant driver in history in a single season, with 13 currently, the record shared by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.

And given the Dutchman’s form of late, few would bet against him winning one or more of the last three Grands Prix in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Verstappen’s back-to-back titles mean that at the age of 24 he is already just one shy of equaling legends like Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda.

With Lewis Hamilton winning six out of seven between 2014 and 2020 and Sebastian Vettel winning four in a row between 2010 and 2013, there is talk that Verstappen will now enjoy a period of dominance. But Mercedes’ Hamilton, who missed out on the 2021 crown by a razor-thin margin, and Leclerc, whose feud with Ferrari this year was unraveled by team and individual errors, want to make sure that’s not the case.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton said when asked if F1 is now in the ‘Verstappen era’, according to motoring week: “It’s too early to tell. If we get to next year and they dominate again, then yes. But the Ferraris have been quicker than them during qualifying.

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“I think they’ve probably had better performance every lap for most of the season. Now all they need to do is pick up their race pace and they’ll be with them. I think we’ve got a much, much bigger step up. and a steeper hill to climb, but I hope it’s not impossible.”

While Leclerc, who led Verstappen by 46 points in April, said: “I will do my best so that it doesn’t happen (Verstappen’s dominance) and we are working as a team so that it doesn’t happen obviously. I think it is very clear to us. where we need to improve.

“Over one lap we’re really strong and I think we’re on the same level as Red Bull, over the course of a race we have tire problems. So we’re putting our effort into that and hopefully we can.” I will see the result as soon as next year.

“Looking back at the season, not only has there been tire degradation, but there have also been mistakes, strategy, communication and tire management is one of those things. And again we are trying to use these last few races in the best possible way to challenge Max and Red Bull for the championship next year.

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“But I am confident that we can do it because I know how hard we are working and I am confident that we are working in the right direction.” Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, said on Sky Sports this week: “Red Bull is the dominant force at the moment in the same way that Mercedes was for all these years.

“Securing the Constructors’ Championship from the start, to have a team that is so dominant in all areas at the moment. They have the car, they have the best driver in F1 at the moment, they have the strategy, they always pull it off at the right time. . Everything is coming together in an incredible way. The engine also seems to be amazing.

“It’s a period now where it will be very difficult for any team to come close next year because they have a lot of momentum. It will be really difficult for Mercedes or Ferrari to come close. For Mercedes, the Achilles’ heel is the straight. – line rhythm. My God, they are slow. I hope they find the secret to unlocking some pace down the straight.”

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