F1 columnist Karun Chandhok has opened up on how he believes that the much talked about rivalry between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen shows hints of the iconic rivalry shared between F1 legends Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in the 1989 season of F1. The Hamilton and Verstappen rivalry came into more prominence last year when 24-year-old Verstappen defeated 7-time world champion Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and clinched his maiden championship title.
When speaking about such a rivalry, it’s easy to ignore that Prost was five years older than Senna and was at a different point in his F1 career when they were partnered up at McLaren. Prost was entering his tenth season of racing in 1989, and he had achieved first or second in five of the preceding nine. He, like Lewis, had been there, done it, and proven himself as the greatest driver of his time in a variety of ways.
Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna had put himself on the stage in his F1 career in the 1984 season by displaying his driving prowess in less number of cars before eventually winning his first championship in 1988 by driving in the much talked about McLaren’s MP4/4. His proceedings were a lot similar to what Verstappen is trying to achieve now by trying to take over the mantle and be the only undisputed one in this motorsport.
More similarities seen between the Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry and Prost-Senna rivalry
In contrast to his early years, Lewis appears to have modified the way he approaches a grand prix in recent years. There’s a lot of concentration on having the car arranged and locked in for the race, just like Prost used to. He is no more devastated if he does not win pole position since he understands that the points are earned in the races. His technicians praise how well but he has enhanced his tendency to look after the tyres and permit flexibility in race techniques, allowing him to win races like Barcelona and Mexico, where he had tyres that had been 14 laps closer to retirement than Sebastian Vettel and yet still beat him to the finish line.
“If you see Lewis drive on board, you’ll observe a fluidity to his driving that isn’t as severe as Prost, Jackie Stewart, or Jenson Button, but it’s clearly less aggressive than the style we saw in his initial McLaren days or what we anticipated from Senna, Schumacher, and now Verstappen,” said Chandhok
Max, like Senna, has rewritten the norms of behavior when it comes to competing on the track. The way he races has an edgy, brutal streak to it. There’s a youthful driver’s amazing self-belief and assurance, knowing that he possesses a God-given gift that only just few people in the sport’s history have ever possessed. This season we’ll get to see Verstappen and Hamilton get more into the rivalry as Hamilton will look forward to dethroning Verstappen following the defeat at Abu Dhabi.