Verstappen prediction by Nico Rosberg will make Hamilton shudder

Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes

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Nico Rosberg’s assertion that Max Verstappen is ‘only getting started’ is another unwanted reminder for Lewis Hamilton that he has a monumental challenge on his hands to defeat his irrepressible Red Bull rival. Relentless Verstappen was virtually unopposed in a dominant season for Red Bull, sealing a record 15 race wins while Hamilton’s Mercedes and other competitors faltered.

Verstappen strolled to yet another victory in an anti-climactic finish to the 2022 campaign, while Hamilton was forced to retire his Mercedes due to a mechanical problem. Hamilton’s retirement completed his first F1 season without a race win since joining the F1 grid in 2007. 

And while his Silver Arrows team will be working desperately to close the gap to Red Bull after a year of being uncompetitive, Hamilton also has an uphill battle to match the incredible speed and consistency of Verstappen. 

2016 world champion Nico Rosberg beat Hamilton to his solitary world title, and believes Verstappen can now already be considered one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.

“He is an incredible driver,” Rosberg told Sky Sports. “I think that it is even easy to say that he’s going to be one of the best of all time, which he actually already is now if you look at the statistics. I mean, double world champion with all the race wins he has. 

“I think more than (Fernando) Alonso now if I’m not mistaken so he’s already one of the best of all time and he’s only getting started, so I think he’s going to confirm that in the next decade, certainly.”

Rosberg added: “Its just incredible, his level of driving is phenomenal so it is great to witness that. And we need to remember also, it’s not like from the get-go this year his car was miles quicker than everybody else – no – the Ferrari was the quickest car when we got going at the beginning of the season and still, he got the incredible 15 wins and really destroyed the opposition in that way.

“It’s one of the greatest driving seasons we’ve ever seen, it’s very impressive.”

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Amidst Verstappen’s dominance, Hamilton finished sixth in the drivers’ standings in an unprecedented year of struggle for the 37-year-old Brit. And he is keen to put his miserable season behind him as he targets challenging Verstappen for his eighth world title in 2023. 

 “I am very pleased it is over and done with,” a relieved Hamilton said after his retirement in Abu Dhabi. “I gave it everything, but ultimately the last race was like my whole season. It summed up my year.

“This year was not the greatest. It is probably up there with the top-three worst seasons, but in terms of how the team stayed united, there have been lots of pluses.”

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