Verstappen's Red Bull Confidence Dwarfs Hamilton's Mercedes Struggles Says Lawson

Tuesday, 12 March 2024 at 21:00
verstappenhamilton redbull rbcp1
Max Verstappen is currently in a world of his own, which is the complete opposite of what Lewis Hamilton is experiencing, as he's struggling with his Mercedes.
When the Dutch driver entered the Formula One world in 2015, all he knew was seeing one driver, Hamilton, and one team, Mercedes, dominate almost every single race.
That has changed in recent years, as Verstappen is now a three-time World Champion, while the British driver has yet to win a race since 2021. On top of that, it's not only about being winless for the 39-year-old, as he's massively struggling with his car.
As he said himself, Hamilton is far from enjoying himself on the race track, and that's mostly because of his lack of confidence in his car, which he also discussed multiple times.
Liam Lawson, who got to drive for AlphaTauri (now RB) last season, observed this and discussed on the latest Sky Sports F1 Podcast how Verstappen's and Hamilton's confidence in the car differs.

"Max's confidence level with that car, it's got to be higher than anybody’s. If you look at Lewis for example he's obviously not 100% happy, and hasn't been with that car."

"You can imagine that every time he approaches the start of a qualifying lap or any lap really he's not going to be 100% confident with what he's got underneath him and know exactly what it's going to do."

Not being confident in the car can easily be reflected in the lap time as well. While Mercedes may be able to be a bit more competitive than what Hamilton manages to extract from the car, it would be unwise for the seven-time World Champion to push the car somewhere where he doesn't feel comfortable with it.
At the end of the day, one of his main goals is to bring the car back home safely for the team, not only to avoid additional costs in the harsh reality of the budget cap but also to collect important data from every race.
That's completely the opposite for Verstappen, who, according to Lawson, manages to push the car because of his confidence. That results in incredible precision, which is then reflected in his speed.

"Whereas Max is at right now with the Red Bull, the car is in such a good window and he's so comfortable with it. The best way to see is when you look at qualifying lap from Jeddah, he doesn’t miss an apex and he gets so close to the wall, Turn 4, I’m pretty sure he touched it on the inside, which is extremely difficult to do, to be that precise."

"But it's not just Turn 4, it's Turn 10, Turn 22 as well, it's everywhere basically, he's so precise and confident with the car and it's those things that really make up lap time."