Max Verstappen’s former boss feels time has hit Lewis Hamilton ‘too hard’ in F1 battle

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Max Verstappen’s former team boss, Franz Tost, believes Lewis Hamilton has been hit “too hard” from Mercedes’ woes this year to battle with the Dutchman in the 2022 F1 World Championship. Tost was Verstappen’s boss when the teenager broke into F1 with Toro Rosso.

While the pair only worked together for 18 months before Verstappen was promoted to a Red Bull seat, Tost still built up a close working relationship with the driver. Tost admits that he saw a bit of Michael Schumacher in Verstappen from their early days together.

The AlphaTauri boss also accepts that the 24-year-old was often too “aggressive” earlier in his career but has matured over the years. The maturity led to his first F1 world title last year after an epic tussle with Hamilton throughout the season.

It’s been a different story in 2022 with Mercedes unable to give Hamilton a car to challenge Verstappen. Mercedes have improved in recent months with Hamilton picking up five consecutive podiums, gaining ground on both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

But Hamilton is still 112 points adrift of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship and Tost believes the seven-time world champion won’t be a concern for the Dutchman. “I first met Max with his father at the Nürburgring,” he told F1 Insider.

“At that time he was still karting. The next time was at the Norisring in Formula 3. In the rain he drove in a league of his own, as if he was the only one who had discovered a dry line. He immediately reminded me of Michael Schumacher. You could see what mega talent Max was.

“We had to take criticism when we entrusted the Toro Rosso to him at the age of 17. So someone who didn’t even have a driver’s license. He also completed the first practice session in Suzuka, one of the most difficult tracks of all. But Max handled everything confidently.

“He never had any problems with the high speed of a Formula 1 car and always had everything under control from the start. In his first races he was sometimes a little too aggressive. This sometimes led to a crash, for example in Monaco with Romain Grosjean.

“Today he rides at an extremely high level. Still, we haven’t seen the maximum from him yet. Only Charles Leclerc can come close to keeping up. Lewis Hamilton has already been gnawed too hard by the ravages of time.”

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