Lewis Hamilton has often polarised Formula 1’s fanbase, but even his most loyal fans will struggle to defend some of the comments he made ahead of the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.
The Briton’s ongoing rivalry with Max Verstappen certainly isn’t a secret, nor are such feuds uncommon in the pinnacle of motorsport.
However, Hamilton’s attempt to diminish Verstappen’s current and prior team-mates wasn’t a good look on him.
Specifically, he claimed that his prior team-mates had been much stronger than Verstappen’s.
“I’m no more impressed than when Michael [Schumacher] was leading, and when Sebastian [Vettel] was leading when Kimi [Raikkonen] was driving, when Fernando [Alonso] was winning. It’s the same,” he said.
“I think the team is, as a whole, one of the strongest – they are firing on all cylinders right now. The car is incredible, the drivers are doing an amazing job, very consistent.
“The pit crew are doing a great job, the mechanics are doing a good job, strategy is doing a good job, like, on point. You can’t fault them.
“In my personal opinion, Valtteri [Bottas], and actually all my teammates, have been stronger than the teammates that Max has had.”
Continuing, Hamilton reiterated that Verstappen’s team-mates are nowhere near the level of his own current and former team-mates.
“You know, Jenson [Button], Fernando, George [Russell], Valtteri, Nico [Rosberg]. You know, all these guys have all been very strong, very consistent, and Max is not racing against anyone like that.
“The narrative, that goes through the media… you know when I qualified half a second, six tenths ahead of Valtteri, they didn’t say the same thing as they say today when Max qualifies six tenths ahead of Perez – it’s blown up much more.”
Not only is this disrespectful to the Dutchman’s former team-mates – which include several top-calibre drivers, such as Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz – it isn’t entirely accurate.
After all, for many years Hamilton had Valtteri Bottas as his Mercedes team-mate, allowing him to rack up grand prix victories and championships with relative ease.
During the grand prix itself, Hamilton raised eyebrows as he characteristically whinged over the team radio about Mercedes opting for a wrong strategy.
Specifically, he was unhappy with Mercedes’ decision to start him on the hard tyre, as he felt his mediums wouldn’t last the entire second stint.
As it turned out, Hamilton was proven wrong, and he demonstrated his willingness to throw Mercedes under the bus when things potentially go wrong, but claim the credit when he is winning courtesy of their car’s dominance.