Hill: Verstappen's 'sublime' talent reaching 'that next level'

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme. 08.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Qualifying
© XPB 

Ex-F1 driver Damon Hill says Max Verstappen has been "sublime" this season, and believes the Dutchman's maturity and skills have taken his talent to "that next level".

In Mexico City last time out, Verstappen clinched his fourteenth win of 2022, breaking the record for the most race victories in a single season.

But beyond that milestone achievement and the Red Bull charger's dominance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a closer look at Verstappen's lap times reveal an extraordinary level of consistency.

Apart from the two laps under the VSC, Verstappen lapped in the 1m22s on every single lap during his stint on the mediums. The two-time world champion's remarkable underlying consistency and what it reflects wasn't lost on Hill.

"Basically, his performance this year has been pretty sublime," Hill commented on the F1 Nation Podcast.

"You have people drawing attention to his lap time consistency during the Mexican Grand Prix, where he kind of lapped within two tenths of a second virtually every lap for about 40 laps.

"He has been driving so maturely and so serenely, he's reaching that next level in terms of how people regard his talent."

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. 30.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner echoed Hill's view but added that 2022 has been one of the most dominant campaigns ever enjoyed by a single driver.

"There’s been years of domination with Mercedes, but I think as an individual driver, probably yes. He’s won the most grands prix in a year now, within 22 races," said Horner.

"On top of that, he’s won two sprint races, and he’s not won all of them from pole position. He’s had to fight and race for a lot of those victories.

"I think when we look back at the end of the year, it is an absolutely outstanding year that Max has driven. He hasn’t put a wheel wrong. He’s been perfect throughout the season. It’s incredible the level of consistency that he’s been able to achieve."

Hill also noted that, in a season void of the cut-throat drama that marked last year's campaign, Verstappen appeared less "feisty" battling Ferrari's Charles Leclerc than he did racing Lewis Hamilton in the past.

"Well, he's not having to fight another team for a world championship, so that feistiness, he didn't seem to have the same reaction to his competition with Charles as he's had with Lewis," said Hill.

"There seems to be some sort of, I don't know, difference of opinion between those two [Verstappen and Hamilton], but less so with Charles Leclerc."

"Charles was a title contender and Max seemed to kind of deal with it quite comfortably."

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