Max Verstappen may hold a number of records as Formula 1’s youngest driver, but it has been revealed he was still outclassed by rival Lewis Hamilton in his first 150 races.
Breaking the record for the sport’s youngest competitor by nearly two years at 17 in 2015, the Dutchman quickly lived up to Toro Rosso’s expectations before being promoted to the senior Red Bull team the following year, with which he won on his debut in Spain.
Unfortunately for Verstappen, his arrival coincided with Mercedes’ early dominance of the turbo-hybrid era which began in 2014, but his decision to join Red Bull at the expense of the German team later paid off.
A world champion last season, Verstappen is also leading the way this year after battling seven-time title winner Hamilton in one of the most intense battles the sport has ever seen.
The duo went wheel to wheel on an unprecedented number of occasions for title contenders, before going into the final round at Abu Dhabi level with points.
Verstappen won his first crown in controversial circumstances with a last-lap lunge, winning what had become a heated rivalry for centuries.
Statistically the most successful driver in F1 history, doubts have been cast over Hamilton’s chances of claiming a record eighth world title, with his Mercedes well behind this year.
But as the stats show, he still has an advantage over Verstappen, especially at the start of his career.
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The Red Bull champion has now completed 150 races, his last Grand Prix having seen him claim a first-ever Canadian win last time out.
In that race he had 26 wins, 15 pole positions and 67 podiums, which might sound impressive until you see Hamilton’s numbers.
The 37-year-old Briton recorded 34 wins, 40 poles and 72 podiums after breaking into the sport with McLaren in 2007, winning his first title the following year.
Some wonder if Hamilton could win another championship, while others, including British rally star Kris Meeke, still believe his impact is immeasurable, particularly on the number of homegrown stars now shining in the sport.
The Nitro Rallycross rider told talkSPORT: “This new generation coming in, I think it’s probably the Lewis Hamilton effect. These guys, like Lando Norris, were probably only 10 or 12 when Lewis won his first world title.
“I think it’s a ripple effect, but globally F1 has really grown over the last few years and these guys are just megastars, all of them, so it’s good to see It’s healthy for motorsport and it trickles down.
Hamilton has also used his platform at the top of the sport to promote equal rights and start a discussion about mental health, which has been felt across the racing world.
The Briton has a team in Extreme E, the premier men’s and women’s 50/50 racing series, with rider Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky telling talkSPORT how that impact has been felt.
“Extreme E really pushes women to the highest level of motorsport, and the environmental part of driving with electric cars and working for sustainable technology,” she said.
“People always ask me why there are no girls in F1 but to come to this sport you have to start early, there are Formula 1 teams which recruit boys who are ten years old. To have a girl in Formula 1, you have to do the same with the girls.
“You see the attention now with the W-series and the Extreme E and it draws attention to the fact that women can be just as good as men, if not better.”
Hamilton also spoke about mental health issues during the lockdown, the impact of which was also felt by Ahlin-Kottulinsky.
“For me personally, I’ve been working with a mental coach since I was 15, and it’s definitely helped me not only in my racing life, but also in my personal life,” she added.
“It’s good because you open up about things, we all have feelings and we all have things that we struggle with. If you have a role model that works with a mental coach, that allows you to identify with yourself more, then you can say “Lewis Hamilton does this, so why can’t I do this?”
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