Michael Schumacher Caught in Friendly Fire as Nephew Max Verstappen Disrespects Lewis Hamilton

Published 10/09/2023, 5:40 AM EDT

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“I was three or four years old then. All I knew was that it was Uncle Michael.” Isn’t it beautiful how two generational talents of Formula 1 have a much deeper connection than what meets the eye? Michael Schumacher, a seven-time world champion. Max Verstappen, a newly crowned three-time world champion. Their love for racing and F1 is just the tip of the iceberg in their relationship, one that runs way deeper than just race wins and championships.

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What many may not know is that Schumacher was a constant role model for Verstappen while the Dutchman was shaping himself to be the champion he is today. Given how lovely their uncle-nephew bond is, Verstappen may not have meant to disrespect Schumacher, but he invariably did. Well, he may not have meant to disrespect Lewis Hamilton either, but he did that, too.

Max Verstappen explained his motivation for winning championships

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As soon as the 2023 season started, one thing became clear. Max Verstappen would become the eventual champion. From a matter of ‘if he’ll be a three-time champion,’ it became a question of ‘when.’ That ‘when’—his first opportunity to win the title—came at the Qatar GP last weekend. During the Sprint race on Saturday. He got the opportunity, and he took it with a P2 finish. That came after he secured pole position for Sunday’s main race, one that won comfortably, in proper Verstappen fashion. The F1 community can now officially say he’s a three-time world champion.

In light of this mega achievement, Channel 4’s David Coulthard interviewed Verstappen. Coulthard mentioned how Verstappen is already content with all he’s achieved and isn’t really thinking about how many championships he could win. Verstappen replied, “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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Seven, obviously, is the magic number in F1 right now. That’s the most any driver has ever won. The list includes only Michael Schumacher and Verstappen’s 2021 rival, Lewis Hamilton. While that may be the benchmark for many, it doesn’t make a difference to Verstappen. Like he said, whether a driver wins one championship or seven, they’ll still be called a World Champion. While he may not have meant it as a dig toward Hamilton, it did come off like that. And who got caught in the crossfire? His uncle, Michael Schumacher.

Reaching that number of seven championships may not be what he’s thinking about, but it sure is something he’s on his way to achieving. At least, that’s what another World Champion feels.

Verstappen is on his way to breaking every record

Verstappen and Red Bull are on this amazing run of form, one that’s seen them dominate the sport for two years. The best part? They don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. After Verstappen gave his verdict on winning more championships, he said, “Of course, it’s nice now that we are on this winning streak, and you keep on winning. That’s exactly what I’m here for, but also what I grew up with—winning. That’s what defines the sport. I just try to enjoy the moment and try to do it as long as I can.” 

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Verstappen’s future in the sport has often come into question this season, especially after he alluded to retiring early. Even so, that isn’t stopping him from toppling records, something Mario Andretti feels he’ll do till he stays in F1. In an interview with TJ Sports USA, Andretti said, “The way I look at it, records are made to be broken. I never thought that Schumacher would have any rivals. Not in my lifetime. I think Lewis Hamilton disproved that by tying that record, and Max is on his way. No question. If there’s anyone that you could consider to be a record-breaker, it’s going to be Max Verstappen. At 26, he’s only beginning.”

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Watch This Story: Will Max Verstappen Retire Early from F1?

How many championships do you think Max Verstappen can win before he retires?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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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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