Former F1 world champion Nelson Piquet believes that Red Bull driver Max Verstappen would “smash Hamilton” if he was his teammate at Mercedes.
The Brazilian driver said that while making a direct comparison is difficult, he firmly believes Verstappen has greater driving acumen.
Piquet was critical of what value Valtteri Bottas brings to the Mercedes team.
“It’s not that Hamilton isn’t good. But he has an inferior driver by his side and the previous one [Nico Rosberg] was even worse.”
In an interview that featured his son as well, the duo were critical of Hamilton’s chances this season. They said that Verstappen seems hungry to succeed.
“First of all, we have to consider that F1 is a category with different cars, so it’s very difficult to make a direct comparison between two drivers if they are not on the same team.
“But, if Max were driving for Mercedes, I’m sure that he would smash Hamilton.
“Max is more aggressive. He may make mistakes more frequently due to this aggressiveness, but in my opinion he’s better than Hamilton. Things are too easy for Hamilton to win it all with Bottas by his side as a second driver.
“It’s a little bit like Mansell and myself in Williams, with the other drivers far behind. I won the 1987 championship, and I wasn’t driving like before, because I had the accident at the beginning of the year and had field depth problems.
“But I won that championship, with a bit of luck. I should have won in 1986, but won in 1987.
“It was so easy. The car was far better than the others. And Mercedes is far better than the others for the past years.
“It’s not that Hamilton isn’t good. But he has an inferior driver by his side and the previous one [Rosberg] was even worse. He [Rosberg] won because it was a year where Hamilton had crashes and DNFs.”
Piquet Jr, who is a former Formula E champion and has featured in Formula 1 as well, said Hamilton’s experience is the most crucial aspect for him.
“I think we have to consider two things: Lewis’ experience and Max’s desire. Lewis has been in F1 for 15 seasons and I think that, little by little, you start to lose that desire. On the other hand, Max is coming with a knife between his teeth.
“Lewis has already won seven championships, so he comes with another type of ‘fire’. And that can make a difference.
“I like to compare Max with a MMA fighter, coming ready to face any challenge. It’s different from Lewis, that already won championships and so on.
“Lewis’ experience will help in some areas, but Max’s willingness and aggressiveness is bigger.”