Lewis Hamilton ‘past his prime’ verdict as Verstappen questions ‘not the smartest’ call – F1 news round-up

April 16, 2024

Lewis Hamilton ‘past his prime’ verdict as Verstappen questions ‘not the smartest’ call – F1 news round-up

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton featured in Monday’s F1 news headlines.

Monday’s F1 news sees build-up to the Chinese Grand Prix begin, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen both in the headlines.

After five years away from Shanghai, Formula 1 is building up to race in China for the first time since 2019 – and multiple people have already had their say on the first Sprint weekend of the season.

Dutch pundit gives Lewis Hamilton ‘past his prime’ verdict

Dutch racing driver Michael Bleekemolen does not believe Lewis Hamilton is operating at the peak of his powers at the moment, and does not think an eighth World Championship will be happening at Ferrari next season.

“It’s all just so bad,” Bleekemolen told RacingNews365. “I think he’s past his prime.

“Things aren’t going well for him either. I don’t see much point in him anymore.

“Maybe he will end up in the top two or three again, that could just be possible. That won’t be easy, but it would be nice. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Read more: ‘I don’t see much good anymore’ – Dutch pundit’s Lewis Hamilton ‘past his prime’ verdict

Max Verstappen questions ‘not the smartest’ Sprint idea

With Formula 1 heading to its first Sprint weekend of the season, the Shanghai International Circuit layout should lend itself well to the shortened format, but given the sport has not raced there in five years, Max Verstappen does not think it is the best idea to jump straight into a Sprint with only one hour of practice.

Ground effect cars have come into place since Formula 1 last visited China and a lot has changed, along with the track being resurfaced, but despite the fact most of the drivers know the circuit, Verstappen thinks a standard weekend would have been a better idea.

“I think it’s not great, let’s say like that, to do that,” he said.

“Because when you have been away from a track for quite a while, I think you never know what you’re going to experience, right? So it would have been better to have a normal race weekend there.

“But on the other hand, it probably spices things up a bit more, and that’s maybe what they would like to see.

“But yeah, purely from a driving perspective, performance perspective of the sport, I think it’s not the smartest thing to do.”

Read more: Max Verstappen leads questions on ‘not the smartest’ Chinese Grand Prix decision

Daniel Ricciardo makes RB 2025 admission in F1 future update

Daniel Ricciardo admitted he would be willing to spend the 2025 season at RB if an elevation to Red Bull does not come to pass as he had hoped.

“As I feel today, yes,” he told Speedcafe when asked if he would be willing to spend 2025 at RB. “I’m enjoying the driving now; it’s not so much result-driven.

“Obviously, I don’t want to just be here to be here; I want to earn that seat and the team is hopefully further up. So yeah, I guess it goes both ways. I mean, the answer is yes.

“But is it more fun fighting at the front? Is it more fun fighting for podiums and wins? Absolutely.”

Read more: Daniel Ricciardo gives ‘not so much result-driven’ update on his F1 future

Rain in China? We could have Istanbul 2020 flashbacks

When it rained at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix on a fresh surface, there’s no other word to describe qualifying and the first part of the race than ‘chaos’, given the ice rink-style surface in play.

If simulations do not match as planned, that could be the same again in Shanghai, given the track has recently been resurfaced in anticipation of Formula 1’s arrival – and rain is forecast for the weekend.

“It was due a resurface and glad they’ve taken the opportunity to do so,” Karun Chandhok told the Sky F1 podcast.

“And you just throw another curveball, because they’ll have all their simulation numbers, and what happens is Pirelli send engineers out where they have a machine that basically measures the roughness of the surface, and they’ll feed that information back to the teams.

“They’ll plug that information back to the simulators, and all of that going on. But as we found in Turkey [in 2020], that doesn’t always translate to being exact.

“The simulators are brilliant but, ultimately, that’s not quite real life yet.”

Read more: ‘Istanbul flashback’ concerns raised as Chinese Grand Prix returns to F1

Eddie Jordan’s F1 Sprint solution

Having called the format “shambolic”, Eddie Jordan believes there is another way for F1 Sprints to take place – as a potential proving ground for young talent.

“Rather than lose it, I would propose having four Grands Prix, which are four of the races that are key in our calendar…so you talk about Spa, Silverstone, Monza, and then a choice of somewhere else, let’s put it into Monaco,” he said on the Formula For Success podcast.

“So for me, when you have tennis and you have a Grand Slam, these would be for me the Grand Slam events.

“And what I would like to propose does happen so as it doesn’t need extra cars, it doesn’t need extra parts, that a sprint race, which can be shorter, because really, all you want to do is see the start of the race and see how people qualify…so you give them a chance to get the feel, soak up the atmosphere of the Saturday, and we have a sprint race at four events a year – and no driver can enter that race if they’ve completed in over 10 Grands Prix.

“So it gives some of those guys who are unlucky, that got squeezed out, some of the guys who are on the way up, and it gives them a chance.”