Why Max Verstappen Deserves Even Mercedes’ Respect

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Why Max Verstappen deserves some respect, at the very least, it can be said for what he has achieved in the recently completed season. In a year where no other team, not even Aston Martin, not Williams, but of course, not McLaren even were able to stop Red Bull from winning, only one team came in the path of Red Bull’s total annihilation of the grid.

Alas, this isn’t a team the legendary hero of our sport Sir Lewis Hamilton drives for. The only team that managed to deny Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team a victory if only for one single occasion, then it wasn’t the one shepherded by Toto Wolff or driven with much grit by either among George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton.

It was Ferrari, which to many, even today is akin to ‘Fail-rari.’ It was the team that somehow positioned itself into a defiant space at the electrifying night race of Singapore. In so doing, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz jr. converted his pole position into victory.

And that was that; George Russell couldn’t win a race all year along. Ditto for mega world champion and a true icon of the sport: Sir Lewis Hamilton.

But then, surely what’s rather unfortunate, purely from

But just remember how the equation between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Sir Lewis Hamilton was two years back in the day at the very venue of the Dutchman’s most recent F1 triumph: the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Amid the titanic struggle for supremacy at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, both Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton entered the Yas Marina on equal points. In what was essentially a winner-takes-all, a controversial and borderline lunatic call by then FIA steward Michael Masi saw Lewis Hamilton in an unsavoury position.

Max Verstappen, thanks to a last lap overtake on the then track leader, would move to the lead of the race. In so doing, he’d become the first man to cross the checkered flag; Hamilton, hardly ever second-best to anyone at that time, emerged exactly the second-best to the winner, Verstappen.

And what followed from thereon in were reactions that, understandably so, were hot and cold and went a bit too far, don’t you think?

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Oh, okay, they didn’t. Chill out.

Some called Verstappen a cheat, which is when, he was driving his car and trying as anyone would to pounce on his main title rival threat, which at that point, you’ve already been unsparingly told, was Sir Lewis Hamilton. On the other hand, Hamilton, we all saw, was robbed of a title. Had it actually transpired, the Stevenage-born would’ve collected his eighth crown at the pinnacle of Motor Racing.

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But it wasn’t to be.

To this day, and this is by no means, disrespecting Max Verstappen; the current world champion is largely derided in Hamilton’s fan camps. On the other hand, Sir Lewis isn’t exactly the number one favourite of the Orange army or let’s contend with the truth: anyone who likes Verstappen a tad bit.

Isn’t it?

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But when we can hate with passion, why can’t we show respect that way too?

Let it be asked to the Hamilton fans and let it be asked with much simplicity and respect towards all, did Max Verstappen or any of his Red Bull crew manipulate the 2023 Driver’s Standings results?

Did Verstappen himself put a gun on his rivals’ heads on the grid in 2023 as if threatening them with a Dirty Harry expression and saying something like what Clint Eastwood did in the Seventies: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

In what way did the sport’s most polarising driver as also one of its most successful ones of all time threaten Mercedes or manipulate them in any which way? And if that didn’t happen, not that we were tongue tied and sitting with a cloth around our eyes, didn’t Max Verstappen drive the wheels of his RB-19?

Not once has a Formula 1 driver in this still continuing turbo-hybrid era been as successful in terms of winning consecutive races as a certain Max Emilian Verstappen.

No other F1 driver has raced past the checkered flag on no fewer than 10 consecutive occasions. There’ll likely be other drivers who’ll come and possibly, some who will knock down Verstappen’s enviable record in Formula 1.

But then, just why mustn’t Max Verstappen, Christian Horner’s golden boy, Ricciardo’s former and Checo’s current teammate, the winner of multiple races at Spielberg, the destroyer of the 2023 grid and the man behind the dimpled smile and an uncanny resemblance to his own girlfriend be respected by his biggest critics: Mercedes?

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Mercedes are lovely, but can they stand Max Verstappen yet?

Why mustn’t Mercedes and their fans, who truth be told are second to none and deeply passionate about F1, not extend the regard to the very man they had made the butt of their jokes in 2021. That’s when their ire should’ve been directed towards Masi and the sport’s administrators and not Max “2023 World Champion” Verstappen?

Surely, we are in an age where opinion-giving is more often than not, and where, just about anyone, conveniently passes judgment.

But then when an astonishing talent becomes even more successful, shouldn’t those whom he’s humbled, which includes one of F1’s giants called Mercedes, extend congratulations and some regard at the very least?

The Record-Shattering Triumphs Of The 2023 Formula 1 Season
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 29: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium after the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310300008 // Usage for editorial use only //

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 18: Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko talks with Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing in the garage during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 18, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202303190092 // Usage for editorial use only //

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