Lewis Hamilton’s former team-mate snubs Max Verstappen for Brit

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of 2023 season

Valtteri Bottas has claimed that former Lewis Hamilton is still the fastest driver in Formula 1 despite Max Verstappen’s dominant start to the season. The Red Bull man has beaten the Brit to the championship in each of the last two years but the Alfa Romeo driver still stands on the side of his ‘annoyingly talented’ former Mercedes team-mate when it comes to naming the fastest driver in the sport.

Verstappen has been the dominant force in Formula 1 over the past two seasons since narrowly pipping Hamilton to the title in 2021. He broke a number of records as he defended the championship last year and has continued his form into 2023. He currently leads the standings by 14 points after taking wins in Bahrain, Australia and Miami in the opening five races.

In contrast, Hamilton has struggled since their infamous title battle. The seven-time world champion is yet to win a race in that time with Mercedes unable to match Red Bull’s speed since the technical regulations were changed at the start of 2022.

However, Verstappen’s dominance has not changed Bottas’ opinion on who the fastest driver in the sport is. The Finn remains on the side of his former Mercedes team-mate Hamilton as he gave an insight into what makes him so quick.

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“I think he’s still the quickest driver on the grid,” Bottas told the Beyond the Grid podcast. “To me he is still the fastest.

“First of all, he’s annoyingly talented! On top of that, he works way harder than people actually think outside the race weekends.

“And in the race weekends, he’s often the last person to leave from the paddock. It’s just that combination and he’s got a big drive inside him to always deliver and do well. His average baseline performance is so good and then he’s really consistent as well. It makes him hard to beat. When I could beat him, that was obviously a good day.”

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Bottas spent five seasons alongside Hamilton at Mercedes as the Silver Arrows enjoyed one of the most dominant periods in the sport’s history. The team won the Constructors Champions every year that the Finn spent at the team adding to the three titles they had won as Hamilton partnered Nico Rosberg.

Bottas has stressed that he and Hamilton still enjoy a good relationship as they remain close in the paddock.

“Yeah, we still have good friendship,” he said. “This season, I’ve travelled with him a couple of times. We always have a good laugh.”

Hamilton will hope to prove Bottas right in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix next weekend with Mercedes set to bring a significant upgrade package to Imola.

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