Former Red Bull racer Mark Webber insists Lewis Hamilton does not get the credit he deserves despite suggestions from Max Verstappen that the Mercedes ace massively benefits from the Silver Arrows’ superior machinery.
Mercedes have won Formula One’s drivers’ and constructors’ titles every year since 2014, with Hamilton going from a one-time world champion to a record-equalling seven-time world champion in that time.
The Brit, 35, boasts as many triumphs as the legendary Michael Schumacher and has surpassed the German great for race wins to become statistically the best F1 driver of all time.
But Verstappen said of Hamilton: “I have a lot of respect for what they’ve achieved. I’m not frustrated about Lewis in a Mercedes car.
“To be honest, 90 per cent of the field could win in that car. Nothing against Lewis, he’s a great driver, but the car is so dominant.
“OK, maybe others wouldn’t be as dominant as Lewis is, but you accept the situation you are in and you just try to make the best of it.”
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But Webber, who won eight F1 races and clinched 42 podium finishes across 11 years in the sport, thinks Hamilton is deserving of more praise.
The Australian thinks Hamilton’s incredible consistency – having won at least nine races in every season since 2014 including 11 of 17 in 2020 – marks him out among his competitors.
Hamilton finished 124 points clear of Silver Arrows team-mate Valtteri Bottas and 133 ahead of Verstappen in the final standings this year despite missing the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I think from his colleagues and the industry as a whole, we know it’s an extraordinary achievement,” Webber said of Hamilton on the At The Controls podcast.
“Could he get even more credit externally? Maybe yes because people want to keep mentioning the car and the technology that he has at his disposal.
“But as we know the best people want to work with the best people, retention of staff, the right culture.
“He’s the embodiment of that consistent work ethic, he turns up with the right body language and he always delivers.
“Ultimately when you’ve got someone like that in the car, even when it’s not going well for them in the build up to Grands Prix – I’m talking the last five years now, not just this year – he always manages to drag something out very special.
“Very, very dependable, very consistent and deserves absolutely everything he gets.
“It’s been a special year for him and he wrapped it up in Turkey in such Hamilton fashion, it was like a slow kill really.
“He followed them around the first part of the Grand Prix, watched everyone else crumble with decisions around pitstops and he just said, ‘Well I’m going to do this.’
“He closed it out brilliantly. Very, very special guy and next year looks very strong for him as well.”
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Mick Schumacher, son of Ferrari icon Michael and who will race for Haas in the 2021 F1 season, also believes Hamilton requires greater acclaim from his critics.
“When we look at a champion dominating an entire era there is a risk of overlooking something important,” the young German told Corriere Della Sera Sport.
“The enormous amount of work it requires, how relevant are the resources, energy and talent applied by that champion who then wins.
“This is as true for Hamilton as it is for my father. There is nothing random about great success. It’s an iceberg, and we often only see the tip of that iceberg emerging from the water.”
While Webber told Dutch outlet Formule 1 magazine before Christmas that Verstappen needs to improve his performances on Sundays in order to get closer to Hamilton.
The 44-year-old former driver thinks the Dutchman can match Verstappen in qualifying on Sunday but despite two race wins in 202 that the 23-year-old needs to up his game in races.
“Max did a very, very, very good job,” Webber said. “He is in the final phase of fine-grinding his craftsmanship, if I may put it that way.
“Is he already Lewis Hamilton on Saturday, in that he is the same as Lewis in the qualifications? Yes. Is he already Lewis on Sunday? No, he is not. But that’s normal.”
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