Lewis Hamilton ‘scared’ of Max Verstappen after change of attitude in 2020 F1 season
Lewis Hamilton now sees Max Verstappen as a genuine threat to the world title after building “serious respect” for the Red Bull driver last season. Hamilton was once again the dominant driver in Formula One, storming to a record-equalling seventh world title.
Valtteri Bottas was unable to match his Mercedes team-mate for most of the season with just two race wins to Hamilton’s 11.
Instead, Bottas was battling to hold on to second in the championship standings with Verstappen pushing the Mercedes duo closer than ever.
The young Dutchman finished just nine points behind Bottas in the end and would have almost certainly took second place were it not for his five retirements.
Verstappen had built a reputation early on in his F1 career for being to gung ho and reckless when fighting for position on track, resulting in a number of retirements.
This year’s retirements though were largely down to poor luck with Verstappen taking a more mature approach to overtaking while still maintaining his aggressiveness.
Hamilton had spoken out against Verstappen on multiple occasions when the two have collided on the track, but former racing driver Tom Coronel believes Verstappen’s growth this past season has caused some concern for Hamilton.
“This was the best year ever for Max. You can see that there is an upward trend,” he wrote for Motorsport.com.
“You see that mistakes are being made less quickly, you see him still going faster, you see him actually doing things in impossible positions that make you think: ‘Huh? Still?'”
“You still see him overtaking, but still thinking a little more. It makes me think ‘You’re completely in control’, and that’s cool to see.”
He added: “I can really see that only one is scared, and you see that all the time because [Hamilton] is only asking for Max. And you can see that the respect is there.
“It’s not like: ‘Yes, I’m the cool dude, and who are you, new kid? You still have a lot to learn.’ No, there’s serious respect now.”
“They are now both ready to compete for a world championship.”
Verstappen was miles ahead of his team-mate Alex Albon this past season and Red Bull have swapped the British-born driver out for Sergio Perez heading into 2021.
Perez looked set to miss out on a seat altogether for next season with Racing Point announcing months ago that Sebastian Vettel would line up alongside Lance Stroll.
Heading into the final race weekend in Abu Dhabi, there were still question marks over Perez’s future in the sport.
But Red Bull confirmed late last week that Perez would partner Verstappen to give them a new line-up next season.