‘I learned a lot about Max today’ - Hamilton

‘I learned a lot about Max today’ - Hamilton

Formula 1

‘I learned a lot about Max today’ - Hamilton


Lewis Hamilton says he learned more about Max Verstappen in the Spanish Grand Prix than he has at any other race so far in their title battle.

Verstappen took the lead from Hamilton with a strong move into Turn 1 at the start of the race, with the Mercedes driver then closely following the Red Bull throughout the first 40 laps. Mercedes then opted for a second stop for medium tires — an option Red Bull didn’t have — and Hamilton tracked down Verstappen and took the lead with six laps remaining to secure his 98th victory.

“I’m continuing to love this battle we’re having,” Hamiltons said. “I didn’t know whether we’d be able to follow them as close as I did in the end but obviously Turn 1 at the start was not ideal. Gonna have to review it and see how we can do better in the future. But as soon as we got passed in Turn 1 I was like OK, switched into a different mode and it was actually a really good day.

“I learned a lot about Max today, perhaps more than all the other races probably put together, so this has been a good one in that sense. Great, great teamwork from all of us — we were here until late most evenings discussing strategy, last night and this morning; we had all the bases covered in that respect. It then meant coming back from 20-odd seconds was not easy but I think it was the right one in the end.”

Hamilton says it was less about the wheel-to-wheel combat that he learned, but more about Verstappen’s driving style and approach after following him so closely for so long.

“When you’re with people on track you get to see different things and watch closely — and obviously I was following relatively closely — I learned a lot about his car and learned a lot about how he uses it. So it was a good race in that respect.”

Hamilton admits he missed an opportunity to prevent Verstappen trying to overtake him at the start, but then made a conscious decision to not fight overly hard once the Red Bull driver had the upper hand.

“Valtteri (Bottas) was starting third and the goal was to work as a team, so I stayed to the left. I think in hindsight there could have been a moment when Max moved in behind me for a second, I could have pulled across and sealed the job there but I didn’t.

“As we went into Turn 1, I made sure I gave as much space as I could to Max. In my mind it’s always a marathon not a sprint, so I’m thinking of the long game. Sure, you could be a little more aggressive — do I need to? I’m in the position I’m in because I don’t get too aggressive when I don’t need to be.”