Max Verstappen aims dig at Lewis Hamilton with George Russell comparison

Max Verstappen has stuck the boot in when it comes to Lewis Hamilton’s difficult start to the 2022 F1 season with Mercedes.

The Mercedes car has been off the pace of front-runners Ferrari and Red Bull since the season’s opening round in Bahrain.

The Brackley-based outfit have struggled with the ‘porpoising‘ issue that has struck the newly-designed cars this season. Mercedes have to run their car too far off the ground than is optimal to avoid the worst of the problems, which costs them lap time.

In addition, the Mercedes power unit has struggled to compete with the Ferrari and Red Bull-powered teams. Aerodynamic drag is also a concern.

Mercedes have had a challenging start to 2022

Hamilton began the season in Bahrain with a surprise third-place finish, with team-mate George Russell directly behind him in fourth. However, the two cars ran in fifth and sixth for most of the race, with both benefitting from the late-race retirements of Red Bull pair Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Mercedes problems were compounded in Saudi Arabia. Hamilton could not make it out of Q1 in qualifying, starting the Grand Prix in 16th.


He put in a strong display on the Sunday, running as high as sixth at one point. However, a mid-race pit lane closure ruined his strategy, and he finished in 10th. Russell, meanwhile, produced an exceptional drive to finish in fifth place.

In Australia, the younger Brit followed up that display with a podium, with his team-mate in fourth. Then, in Imola, Russell backed up that drive with a fourth-placed finish – arguably his finest Mercedes performance to date.

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It was a tough weekend for Hamilton, however. After qualifying in 14th place, he was stuck in a DRS train behind Williams driver Alex Albon and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. He was also lapped by Verstappen, who was his championship rival last season. The 37-year-old eventually brought the car home in 13th position.


Where do Russell and Hamilton stand in the Drivers’ Championship?

After four races of the F1 season, Russell sits in fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship. In his first full campaign at Mercedes, he has 49 points. Hamilton, meanwhile, is on 28 points.

The standard of the ex-Williams driver’s performances has led some fans to compare him to the seven-time world champion.

Some have pointed out that, had it not been for his strong start at Imola, having qualified 11th, Russell may have been caught in the same DRS train as Hamilton. The 37-year-old was also involved in a pit lane incident which cost him places.


In addition, Russell benefitted from a virtual safety car period in Australia to pit and come out ahead of his team-mate. Therefore, the chasm between the two drivers is not necessarily as big as the points table suggests.

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However, there is no denying that Russell produced an exceptional drive to bring his car home fourth in Imola.

Max Verstappen praises Russell, aims dig at Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen has praised his F1 rival, whilst aiming a dig at Lewis Hamilton by suggesting that his results show the car does have pace.


Speaking before this weekend’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the Dutchman told The Telegraph: “To be honest, it [lapping Hamilton] wasn’t something I was enjoying at the time. I was just focused on my race. On getting through the traffic as cleanly as possibly as winning.

“I mean, it wasn’t like I was, ‘Oh, I’m lapping Lewis. What an amazing feeling’. I had great battles with Lewis last year. Now he’s in a car which is now so great.

“Having said that, of course, George does finish fourth in that car. So it is not all horrific, right?


“I’d say [Hamilton’s] car had quite a bit more pace than the midfield traffic [at Imola]. But yeah, it was hard to pass. I mean also, when there was only one dry line and when you don’t have, let’s say, a top speed advantage anymore.

“It makes it a lot harder to judge how far Lewis was off George. But clearly, the whole weekend, George was doing really well.”

Read: F1 Miami Grand Prix: UK start time, how to watch, highlights channel


Hamilton and Russell will look to make gains towards the frontrunners this weekend at the Miami Grand Prix, which takes place on Sunday at 8pm UK time.

Featured Image Credit: Getty