Max Verstappen Trashes Rivalry With Lewis Hamilton to Celebrate ‘Impossible’ Feat

Published 10/09/2023, 9:43 AM EDT

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“The championship can only be won by one, and it’s going Dutch in 2021. Max Verstappen, for the first time ever, is Champion of the World!” The 2021 Abu Dhabi GP was the culmination of a season-long battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. It was a glorious fight that gave birth to one of the most explosive rivalries Formula 1 has ever seen. That night, David Croft said that 2022 would be a sequel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. With the hopes of achieving his eighth title in 2021 dying, so did Hamilton’s rivalry with Verstappen. 

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Two years later: “Max Verstappen is a three-time Champion of the World!” For two years, Verstappen has dominated the sport, and Lewis Hamilton hasn’t come close to a championship. So, every time the F1 world does get glimpses of that rivalry, it wants more. At least the on-track rivalry. It’s no secret that their relationship soured over the course of the 2021 season. But it looks like Verstappen has set it aside for good.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton rivalry? What’s that?

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On Saturday at the Qatar GP, Verstappen clinched his third consecutive championship. As ironic as it is that he won it during the Sprint race (because he dislikes the format), that was his first opportunity to win it, and that’s precisely what he did. “This one is the best one,” he said. “The consecutive wins, the car has been in the best shape. This one I’m the most proud of.” The Dutchman toppled record after record and rewrote history this season, and with this title, he achieved something he never thought was possible.

In an interview with Channel 4 after the Sprint, David Coulthard said to Verstappen, “A third straight championship, putting you there with [Juan Manuel] Fangio, [Michael] Schumacher, [Sebastian] Vettel, [Lewis] Hamilton. That’s some pretty exclusive club. The newly crowned champion replied, “These kinds of things I never thought were possible when I started racing. I remember watching F1, and you’re like, ‘I want to be on that podium, I want to try and win races.’”

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Verstappen worked to get here, and now that he has, he’s still absorbing the magnificent feat. “Now that you’re here with three titles, it’s quite crazy to think about. You never really think these kinds of things are possible and put your name in between those names,” added Verstappen. As explosive as their rivalry may have been, Hamilton is still someone whose achievements Verstappen is chasing. He is still the benchmark. So, instead of focusing on their rivalry, Verstappen decided to set it aside and celebrate their shared achievement.

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While the Dutchman may have trashed their rivalry, he may have also taken a dig at his 2021 rival.

Numbers don’t matter to Verstappen

At the Italian GP, Verstappen surpassed Sebastian Vettel’s 9-race-winning streak with a record-breaking 10th consecutive win. Following the race, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said, “Those numbers are for Wikipedia. Nobody reads that anyway.” That was a sly dig to undermine Verstappen’s dominance these past couple of seasons. Although the Dutchman hit back at Wolff, turns out, he doesn’t believe in numbers either. He proved this by taking a dig at Hamilton.

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The 38-year-old is a seven-time champion who came agonizingly close to winning a record-breaking eighth title in 2021. Thanks to Verstappen, that still hasn’t come. In the interview with Coulthard, Verstappen said, “When I started racing, the ultimate goal was that if you have the opportunity to win a title, that’s incredible. Because at the end of the day, if you win one or seven, it’s the same thing. There is no real extra value to it for me.”

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Watch This Story: Max Verstappen: ‘Is my title tarnished? Not at all. I really deserved it’

How many championships do you reckon Max Verstappen could win until he’s in F1? Will he topple all of Lewis Hamilton’s feats?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

757Articles

One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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