The Lewis Hamilton "naysayers" were out in force last Monday post the Verstappen's victory at Monaco. Lauding Max's performance and that of his Team as he overhauled Hamilton's Championship lead. In truth, it was an inherited victory, courtesy of Ferrari and Charles Leclerc not turning up for the start. The real victory for the Bulls was the undercut executed on behalf of Perez when he switched to the "hards," coming out ahead of Gasly and Hamilton. Although this was in part a rare failure of the Mercedes race strategy team not truly thinking things through. For Verstappen, he just had to circumnavigate the course until the chequered flag fell… an easier task for him it appeared than for the celebrity "waiver" of the black and white cloth
Post-race Hamilton’s comments were his normal direct and to the point – “it didn’t work and we need to fix it.” The emphasis was clearly on the “we” and not “they” and to expect a comment anything less than he gave is naïve. To hear accusations that he’s only blaming the team and not looking at his own performance is laughable and shows a lack of understanding of the man. Much of this criticism is I’m sure designed to try to undermine Hamilton’s and the team’s confidence. Wishful thinking. Whilst a similar race result may occur in Azerbaijan if the “bendy wing” issue is not resolved I don’t expect Max to experience a higher altitude than the second step for most of the season. This may appear harsh and decrying the obvious talent of Verstappen. I’m not. Personality apart, Max seems a very similar driver to Hamilton (skill and talent) – many people have commented on the similarity of their driving style. Unfortunately for Max, he has to follow in Hamilton’s wake. Lewis has more experience and is, therefore, more confident and a better strategist in all aspects of racing. For me, this is the defining difference. Normally a bad day for Hamilton is a second-place finish. Max does not (yet) enjoy this lofty level of performance as regularly as Hamilton.
It is clear that there are many people clinging to the idea that a renaissance is afoot and that this victory will propel Max to the Championship crown. Whilst I’m sure it will be more closely fought than previous years, Hamilton, the team and the car are in a place wherein the words of Darth Vader and the absence of the “bendy wing” – “Resistance is futile.”