Could a 20-Year-old stop Lewis Hamilton in 2018?

By on Friday, November 10, 2017

Lewis Hamilton became the Formula One World Drivers’ Champion for the third time in the past four years at the Mexican Grand Prix, but could the Brit win it again in 2018? And, is it now time to discuss whether he could become the greatest of all time, with Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles coming into sight?

Hamilton’s fourth World title brings him level with his closest rival and former teammate, Sebastian Vettel, with the pair now joint-third on the all-time leaderboard – a position also shared with Alain Prost, one behind the late Juan Manuel Fangio, and three behind Schumacher.

British and German drivers have completely dominated the Drivers’ Championship over the past decade, with Hamilton and Vettel earning four titles apiece, while Jensen Button picked up the title in 2009, as did Niko Rosberg in 2016.

The Greatest of All-Time?

Hamilton’s success in 2017 puts him in pole position to challenge for what was once considered Michael Schumacher’s unbreakable record.

Indeed, he has already been installed as favourite to win the 2018 Drivers’ Championship when you bet online at, with odds of around 13/8 available on the Brit.

Four back-to-back championships for Vettel between 2010 and 2013 had many people wondering whether he could break his compatriot’s record, but subsequent finishes of fifth, fourth, third and a likely second-place finish in 2017, have disrupted his momentum at the top of the sport.

At 32, and with 11 seasons of Formula One behind him, Hamilton is at his peak. Of anyone in his generation – including the likes of Vettel, Alonso and Räikkönen – he certainly seems to be the best contender for a shot at breaking the record. But, it may be the new kid on the block, 20-year-old Max Verstappen, who will be his own greatest challenger.

A Star in the Making

Despite his tender years, Verstappen is set to complete his third Formula One season, with a sixth-place finish looking likely for 2017. A feat which is all the more impressive considering he was forced into seven mechanical retirements in the opening 14 races of the campaign.

The Belgian-Dutch driver has really kicked on towards the end of the season, topping the podium in both Malaysia and Mexico – pushing his career wins to three. To put that achievement into perspective, both Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher were still competing in Formula 3 at the same age.

Hamilton is well-aware of the threat Verstappen poses to him, though.

Following the youngster’s victory in Mexico, Hamilton admitted: “There is always someone there waiting to take my position. I’ve got Max sitting there waiting to take it.

“I’ve got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him and that motivates me.”

Likewise, Verstappen was bullish in terms of his own chances of beating Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship in 2018.

“I mean a lot of it is the whole package,” said Verstappen. “Of course, [Hamilton] has been in the best car for three years now, so that helps a lot.

“Hopefully, next year we will have at least a similar package so I can take up the challenge, but we have to wait and see.”

Verstappen’s progress comes despite Red Bull and Renault’s troubles since the switch to V6 engines in 2014. The problems are likely to see his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, leave Red Bull ahead of the 2018 season.

Verstappen, however, is contracted to the team until 2019, but his demands for staying with Red Bull in the long term are not difficult to comprehend, saying: “It’s very simple – just give me a winning car.”

Unless Red Bull and Renault resolve their mechanical issues in the next couple of years, Hamilton may well have a couple more seasons of breathing space – and potentially close in on Schumacher’s seven titles – before Verstappen becomes a true contender.

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