The Brit has only really had to worry about his team-mate so far this season. Nico Rosberg remains ahead in the driver standings, but Hamilton is beginning to realize that the young Max Verstappen will cause headaches for Mercedes for the rest of the season.
Max Verstappen simply couldn’t have done a better job over the past two races. He’s been impeccable in that he’s kept the Mercedes drivers within touching distance. He’s benefited from two Rosberg errors too. In Austria, Verstappen was there to pick up 2nd after Rosberg’s dreadful last lap. At Silverstone last time out, he was close enough to the German to pick up 2nd again after Rosberg’s 10-second penalty.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 12, 2016
Before the Spanish Grand Prix, there was debate across the media about Helmut Marko’s premature move to promote the young Dutchman. The critics have since been well and truly silenced.
Hamilton recognizes Verstappen’s talent too, he recently said,
“We knew they [Red Bull] would be fast. Going into the race I think they said we had half-a-second of pace or something, potentially, [over] Red Bull. Whether or not it was half-a-second I don’t know, but we definitely had pace against them.
Max drove a fantastic race and is continuing to show he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
– Lewis Hamilton
Whilst the duel between Rosberg and Verstappen had the German complaining about double-movement in the braking zone, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also acknowledges the rising star and fan favorite. Wolff said,
“The Red Bull car is generally a car that functions very well in the wet, with a lot of drag. But his race-craft is spectacular, and with the way he positions the car. You can see if he has a good car underneath him, he is able to put up a great fight.”
– Toto Wolff
It’s easy to see why Mercedes are piling on the praise. Maybe they want to make Verstappen feel like he’s doing enough already. The Dutchman will have a better opportunity at the Hungaroring. The nature of the circuit should negate the power advantage of the Mercedes.