Lewis Hamilton has hailed Max Verstappen for overseeing a period of dominance in Formula 1 and advised the Red Bull star not to change his style ahead of the 2024 season.
Hamilton and Verstappen infamously went down to the final lap of the 2021 season fighting for the world championship, before a controversial decision from FIA race director Michael Masi enabled Verstappen to pass his title rival on the last lap to clinch the crown.
That was the catalyst for a period of complete domination from Verstappen and Red Bull, having won 19 of 22 races during the 2023 season to finish with 575 points – setting records for most wins in a season and most points in the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has struggled to mount anything close to a challenge over the past two seasons due to Mercedes‘ struggle to align themselves with the current regulations. He currently leads the way in the all-time standings with 103 race victories, but his last win came in Saudi Arabia back in 2021 – a run that stretches back 45 races.
Despite the tension that bubbled away between the pair when they battled for the title, Hamilton had nothing but praise for the 26-year-old after sealing a hat-trick of consecutive titles.
“Max is doing great,” Hamilton said, speaking with Formule 1.nl Magazine.
Asked what his advice would be for Verstappen after winning three world titles, the 39-year-old was full of praise for the Dutchman: “I would say, ‘keep doing what you’re doing’. He’s doing great,” Hamilton added.
Hamilton drops hint over future plans
Hamilton’s seven titles have only been matched by Michael Schumacher, while Verstappen (2021, 2022 and 2023) and Fernando Alonso (2005 and 2006) are the only other drivers on the grid to have won a world championship.
He will be hoping the Silver Arrows deliver him a car that allows him to compete at the front as he bids for an eighth title, but Hamilton has suggested he could continue racing even if he beats Verstappen to the crown this year.
“I never said that an eighth title would be the end point. And I don’t know what follows after driving in Formula 1,” the Mercedes driver explained. “I don’t necessarily feel the desire to remain active in Formula 1 any longer, but as I said before: never say ‘never’.”
The Stevenage-born racer thinks the trio are all well-matched in terms of their competitive spirit, but admitted he does not socialise with his fellow drivers away from the world of motor racing.
“I think that not only we, but all drivers in Formula 1, are extremely driven,” Hamilton stated. “Just for different reasons: different upbringings, different opportunities, different challenges. But I see many similarities with all these drivers and also with younger drivers from Formula 2 and Formula 3, for example.
“I think Max and Fernando have one thing in common with me: we are all extremely competitive. We go to great lengths to achieve what we want. I can’t say much about what they are like as a person. I only know them from the Formula 1 world, it is not the case that I visit them.”