F1 legend claims Lewis Hamilton made Max Verstappen ‘disappear’

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided several times during their herculean 2021 championship battle.

Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Alain Prost believes Max Verstappen is a different driver since his 2021 battle with Lewis Hamilton, to the extent that the Frenchman believes that version of the Dutchman has “disappeared”.

Verstappen claimed his first Drivers’ Championship back in 2021, which was ultimately decided by multiple controversial decisions by ex-race director Michael Masi.

It was Masi’s decisions which essentially crowned Verstappen as World Champion, rather than Hamilton who would’ve claimed an unprecedented eighth title had the rules been followed.

Regardless of Masi’s actions – which were later judged as a ‘human error by the FIA – both Hamilton and Verstappen pushed to the limit of their ability, and occasionally beyond it.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

The pair fought each other too hard at times, which led to collisions in Imola, Silverstone, Monza and Brazil.

Both drivers had a sense of desperation at times in their driving, something which hasn’t been seen since in Verstappen in particular.

Since 2021, the Dutchman has been brutally dominant, to the point that he’s claimed three consecutive titles.

Nobody can touch Verstappen, who has won 29 races since the start of last season alone.

Article continues below

In Prost’s opinion, Verstappen is different now to how he was in 2021, as he’s “calmed down” since his titanic duel with Hamilton.

“No, this Max disappeared after 2021, after that great fight with Lewis Hamilton,” Prost wrote in his L’Equipe column.

“I won’t talk about the controversial final in Abu Dhabi, but I will talk about the way he and his Red Bull came together during the fight with Mercedes all season. That first title made him stronger. Since then he has calmed down, except in his pursuit of perfection.”

Verstappen is very much the king of the current regulations, which will remain the same until the end of 2025.

READ: Red Bull warn Aston Martin about trying to steal their driver

As a result, Prost expects the 26-year-old’s dominance to continue until at least the end of the current regulations, whilst the F1 legend thinks the Dutchman could even carry his form into the new engine regulations in 2026.

“It’s a bad sign for the competition because it won’t stop anytime soon,” Prost added.

“The next two years without rule changes are not going to change much. And even from 2026 – because he and his team are very talented – they will rise to the challenge and at least compete for the title.”