NELSON PIQUET said Lewis Hamilton would get “smashed” if Max Verstappen was at Mercedes, an unearthed interview with the Brazilian shows
Sir Lewis Hamilton, 37, admitted he was “gutted” after qualifying fifth for today’s British Grand Prix. Despite being on home turf, the Mercedes driver could not seal a top-three spot for the Silverstone race. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, this season’s frontrunner, only bagged a second-place spot on the starting grid. He lost out to Carlos Sainz, who secured the first pole of his F1 career ahead of today’s race, which starts at 3pm.
Verstappen hits out at press when comparing his and Hamilton’s boos
Sir Lewis’ fifth-place start means he is now less likely to extend his British GP record to nine wins.
Meanwhile, the seven-time world champion’s run into the race has been overshadowed by a racism row after comments made by Nelson Piquet.
Speaking in a podcast, the former three-time champion used a racial slur against Sir Lewis, who has Grenadian heritage.
The British driver condemned Piquet’s comments, which he apologised for, and which earned him a lifetime ban from the British Grand Prix and Silverstone.
On the track, Verstappen has had a fierce rivalry with Sir Lewis, with the pair crashing as they fought for the lead at the British GP last year.
In an unearthed interview, Piquet gave his verdict on which of the F1 stars was the better driver.
The Brazilian claimed that Verstappen would “smash” his rival if they both drove for Mercedes.
Speaking to Eurosport last year, he said: “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.
Nelson Piquet: Made comments about Hamilton
“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.”
He added: “Things are too easy for Hamilton to win it all with [Valtteri] Bottas by his side as a second driver.”
Although last year Piquet claimed the rivals may have had a fair contest were they both racing for Mercedes, this weekend Sir Lewis has identified a problem with his car.
Max Verstappen: Red Bull driver is Hamilton rival
Speaking on Saturday after qualifying, the British driver complained of a bouncing issue with his vehicle.
He said: “I’m a little bit gutted really because obviously we have such a great crowd here and I was pushing so hard to get on the front row and fight for pole position today.
“I think we could have been in the top three. I was gunning for second at least and so to end fifth, it makes tomorrow tough, but I know I’ve got this amazing crowd with me so I’ll try to push forward.