Lewis Hamilton pushed back against comparing Max Verstappen to Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher with the Dutchman set to claim his third Formula 1 world championship at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.
Verstappen only needs to score three points across the weekend to secure the title in Qatar, a result which would set him level with Senna and just four titles behind Hamilton and Schumacher‘s record.
Hamilton idolised Senna as a child and modelled his first helmet on the Brazilian, but refused to be drawn into comparing Senna and F1‘s current champion.
“I wouldn’t rank him,” Hamilton told the press. “I think ranking people is an opinion-based thing. I think he’s earned his position, he’s done an amazing job with the package that he has, him and the team have been phenomenal this year, faultless.
“And I think they’ve raised the bar, and as a team we have to look at that and go ‘okay, these are the areas that we have to be better to be able to match that and compete.
“I do hope at some stage we can fight and actually have them in that defending position. But they should definitely enjoy the moment because they did the work for it.”
Hamilton unbothered by championship anti-climax
Verstappen looks set to win the championship after the sprint race, as long as he can finish in the top six on Saturday at the Losail International Circuit.
Some fans have criticised the anti-climactic nature of a sprint being the championship decider, but Hamilton insisted he’s not thinking about that.
Hamilton‘s 33 points behind Sergio Perez in the race for second in the drivers’ championship, while Mercedes only lead Ferrari by 20 in the constructors’ standings.
“I don’t really have a view on it if I’m really honest,” Hamilton added. “I’m not in that fight, I’m nothing to do with his championship. I’m just fighting to do my job the best I can and get the team to where I’m hoping to.”