Lewis Hamilton could have 'damaged' Max Verstappen's career, according to teammate
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Lewis Hamilton could have ruined Max Verstappen's F1 career, according to George Russell, if the Red Bull driver had a different route to the top.
It's possible that one day people will be adding Verstappen into the list of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, and asking if the Dutchman is better than Hamilton.
He already looks well on his way to a third drivers' championship title in-a-row, after winning two of the opening three races of the season.
Certainly the Red Bull car looks unstoppable at the moment, even if the team think that Hamilton helped his rival get the victory at the Australian Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old's ability in the car hasn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been following his young career so far, and he was always expected for greatness.
He became the youngest driver in F1 history when he made his debut for Toro Rosso, breaking the record by nearly two years, and won his first race for Red Bull just over a year later, becoming the youngest winner in the sport's history.
His path was very different to Mercedes driver Russell, who drove for Williams at the back of the pack for three years, and the Brit believes that he wasn't necessarily hampered by that, and compared his situation to Verstappen's.
Hamilton's teammate reckons that if Verstappen had been fast-tracked as a Mercedes driver then he may well have struggled alongside the seven time world champion.
"I think that’s something you would never know," Russell said on the Square Mile when asked if he was in a better position for being at Williams.
"It’s something I tell myself because I like to be glass half full and I want to take the positive out of every situation.
"But I could sit here and say I lost three years of my career because I was in a car that was right at the back of a grid and I couldn’t fight for wins.
"Or you can see all the positives from my time there. I look at those years now thinking, 'Yeah, perhaps I did learn more racing at the back compared to what some of my rivals may have done being thrown in the deep end from the beginning.'
"Some drivers have been thrown in at the deep end early and it’s hurt their careers.
"For example, Max Verstappen obviously got his promotion after 18 months, but perhaps if he went into a team like. Mercedes against Lewis Hamilton at the peak of his powers, it could have damaged his career.
"So you’ve got to look at it from both sides, and for sure Max was a greater driver after three or four years under his belt compared to where he was after 18 months under his belt.
"If you’re going up against a guy who’s absolutely in his prime and dominating in the car that he’s so used to, maybe he wouldn’t be in the position he is today."
Russell will be hoping that he can challenge Verstappen for a world title at some point, and will hope that Mercedes pull themselves together in the coming years.
He will need to be quick though, with the Dutchman threatening to quit the sport, and being urged to do so if he has already fallen out of love with it.