SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

2021 contenders have nobody beats me attitude

Formula 1's hard-charging championship contenders both have a "nobody beats me" attitude to their trade.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Steiermark GP 2021
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Formula 1's hard-charging championship contenders both have a "nobody beats me" attitude to their trade.

That is the view of Norbert Haug, who got an early insight into the foundation of Lewis Hamilton's unprecedented career success when he was Mercedes' motorsport chief at McLaren.

"Ten years ago, nobody would have imagined that Michael Schumacher's record would ever be caught or broken," he told Servus TV.

Haug was speaking in the days after Hamilton broke through the never-before-seen statistic of 100 grand prix wins at Sochi.

"Lewis achieved his 100 victories in 15 years and 281 world championship appearances," said the German. "So, he won every third race on average.

"Even if he often had the best car, that is extremely remarkable."

However, 36-year-old Hamilton's unstoppable success has met the seemingly immovable object of the much younger and arguably hungrier Max Verstappen, as the duo now duel mercilessly for the 2021 title.

When asked what sets them apart, 68-year-old Haug answered: "It's the belief in themselves that these guys have.

"If a driver doubts himself even a bit, then there are immediate opportunities for the others. But the real top drivers like Hamilton and Verstappen both have this absolute trust - this 'nobody beats me' thinking."

Haug says he recognised it immediately when a then rookie Hamilton was paired with reigning two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in 2007.

"Fernando just couldn't imagine a rookie going as fast as a two-time world champion," he said.

Ultimately, their rivalry was a destructive force at McLaren, but Haug says both Hamilton and Verstappen are now driving their respective teams to success.

"The driver is an enormous motivating factor," he said.

"We are currently seeing that at McLaren as well. There has to be a perfect interaction between the driver and the team."