Pre-season testing hasn’t even properly begun yet, but Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are already positioning themselves for the battle ahead in the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Verstappen was asked about Hamilton’s status as one of the most successful F1 drivers in history earlier this month, and responded by saying the six-time world champion “is very good … definitely one of the best out there but he is not God.”
During today’s debut of the Mercedes W11 at Silverstone, Hamilton took the chance to react to Verstappen’s comments.
“I find it funny,” Hamilton said. “I have always been known to be my talking on the track, often I tend to see that as a sign of weakness so…”
Hamilton — who suggested teammate Valtteri Bottas is likely to be his main challenger this season — added that he is impressed by how motivated Mercedes remains after a run of six consecutive championship doubles.
“This is my eighth year with the team, so the buzz is the same every year. Everyone couldn’t be more excited, they couldn’t be more enthusiastic or more driven and I would say it is probably the most impressive thing: We had the success and it could be quite easy for them to lay back today but we have the same group, everyone is super focused and there has been so much work that has been done in the background to make sure that today runs smoothly.
“I think everyone gets excited, everyone seems refreshed, revamped and ready for the challenges ahead.”
Bottas was first to drive the new car on Friday before Hamilton took the wheel in the afternoon, and although 2020 could deliver a record-equaling seventh drivers’ championship for the Briton, he says it does not have a major bearing on this stage of the season.
“I think at this time of the year you don’t feel any pressure. It’s really just about having some fun. I mean, you are focused but it is really about enjoying the moment. The guys have worked so hard to put the car together and there’s only two of us that get to drive it, so it is pretty incredible.
“These guys have been working for months and months to build the car that we see in the garage today and to make sure that it is delivered for this day and running smoothly — and me and Valtteri get to go and kind of stretch its wings a little bit.”