‘George Russell finishes fourth in that car… so it’s not all horrific, right?’: Max Verstappen rubs the salt into rival Lewis Hamilton’s wounds as he says his Mercedes is NOT as bad as he claims – despite his struggles
- Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has endured a difficult start to the 2022 season
- He is a remarkable 58 points off Charles Leclerc and sits seventh in the standings
- Max Verstappen suggested the Mercedes car isn’t as bad as Hamilton made out
- He used team-mate George Russell to show that Hamilton is underperforming
Formula One world champion Max Verstappen has reignited his bitter rivalry with Lewis Hamilton by claiming that the Brit’s 2022 Mercedes is not as bad as he claims.
While Verstappen has endured his fair share of struggles at the start of the new season, it is nothing compared with Hamilton, who currently sits seventh in the standings and is already a remarkable 58 points off Charles Leclerc at the top.
Hamilton has finished third, 10th, fourth and 13th in the four races so far this season, with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff last week admitting the car is ‘undriveable’ after an awful weekend in Monza.
Max Verstappen (right) has rubbed salt in Lewis Hamilton’s wounds amid his Mercedes issues
Verstappen says Hamilton’s (right) car can’t be that bad because George Russell (left) is flying
Now, though, Red Bull star Verstappen has taken a swipe at Hamilton and insists that the car can’t be as bad as he makes out – because new team-mate George Russell is fourth in the world championship.
Speaking to the Telegraph in Miami ahead of this weekend’s race, Verstappen reacted to a question about him lapping Hamilton at Monza last time out.
‘To be honest, it wasn’t something I was enjoying at the time,’ he said. ‘I was just focused on my race, on getting through the traffic as cleanly as possible and winning. I mean, it wasn’t like I was, “Oh, I’m lapping Lewis, what an amazing feeling.”
‘I had great battles with Lewis last year. Now he’s in a car which is not so great. Having said that, of course, George [Russell] does finish fourth in that car. So it [the W13] is not all horrific right?’
Hamilton (front) was – embarrassingly – lapped by Verstappen (rear) at Monza last time out
Hamilton on stage with will.i.am during a Miami Grand Prix preview event on Thursday night
F1 DRIVERS’ TABLE
1st: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 86 points
2nd: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 59
3rd: Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 54
4th: George Russell (Mercedes) – 49
5th: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 38
6th: Lando Norris (McLaren) – 35
7th: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 28
When asked about suggestions over the winter that Mercedes were ‘sandbagging’ and pretending that they were having car issues, Verstappen joked: ‘I think there are lots of sandbags somewhere in their car.’
Verstappen has been in a buoyant mood in Miami this week, given his perfect weekend in Italy where he qualified first, won the sprint race, and then won the race – earning himself maximum points.
He is now just 27 points behind the Ferrari of Leclerc and will be hoping to close the gap even more in the US.
Mercedes are expected to improve as the season progresses, and have hinted at upgrades this weekend, but it has still been a surprise to see Russell so far ahead of his team-mate Hamilton in all but one of the opening races.
The young Brit, who joined from Williams and replaced Valtteri Bottas in the off-season, has secured fourth, fifth, third and fourth in his first four permanent races as a Mercedes driver.
This leaves him 21 points ahead of 37-year-old Hamilton as the pair arrive in Miami, with many claiming that the new kid on the block will continue to outscore his seven-time world champion team-mate.