Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes warned about trying to beat Max Verstappen

Mercedes haven't claimed a single victory in 2023, whereas Red Bull have won 16 races, most courtesy of Max Verstappen.

1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill has warned Mercedes that they face a “tall order” to defeat Red Bull next season, as the Austrians have “come close to perfection” in 2023.

Red Bull have been phenomenal this season, with the side having been defeated just once with five races remaining.

Carlos Sainz’s victory at the Singapore Grand Prix is the only time this season where Red Bull haven’t left an event victorious, mostly due to that having been a very below par weekend for the Milton Keynes-based team.

Most of Red Bull’s dominance this season has come courtesy of Max Verstappen, who sealed a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship at the Qatar Grand Prix last weekend.

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He’s won 14 of the 17 completed races this season, putting him just one win short of matching his 2022 record for 15 wins in a single campaign.

Nobody has come close to defeating the Dutchman, with Mercedes having not even had a sniff of the 26-year-old.

Mercedes might sit second in the Constructors’ Championship but they clearly aren’t the second-best team on the grid, as McLaren and Ferrari have both been quicker in the majority of recent races.

It does seem like the Silver Arrows have too big a hill to climb in the space of one winter break to catch Red Bull, given that Verstappen is breaking records for fun.

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“They’ve got a tall order to match or overturn the Red Bull combination with Max Verstappen driving,” Hill told Sky Sports.

“They have come close to perfection this season, they really have, and they’ve broken a lot of records that have stood for a long time.

“I think Max is on target to break a record that Jim Clark set back in the ’60s which is the percentage of race wins in a season.

“He’s ticked off loads of records this year and they seem unstoppable. So, you need to achieve perfection to be able to beat them.”

With him still being so young, Hill has warned Mercedes and the rest of the competition that Verstappen is “just getting better and better”.

Verstappen learnt several crucial lessons in F1 when he was still a teenager, given that he entered the sport when he was just 17 years old.

This has worked massively in his favour, as starting so young has allowed him to understand and exploit his “extraordinary talent”.

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“He’s a new breed of driver whereby he started very young,” Hill added. “In Max’s case, his father was a Formula 1 driver so he had all that experience of Jos Verstappen coaching him and giving him all the right direction.

“Michael Schumacher lived on a go-kart track but his dad wasn’t a famous Formula 1 driver – he started very young, as did Lewis Hamilton. Max, from a very early age, has been groomed and coached in the right way to understand what is required and he’s got the most extraordinary talent.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and is mature. He came into Formula 1 aged 17, before he could even driver a road car, and was both volatile and quick.

“He’s managed to combine his youth and speed with experience now and I think understands now what the job is. He’s just getting better and better.”