After winning the Styrian Grand Prix Max Verstappen now sits 18 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Although Mercedes won every championship since 2014, this is not the first time that a rival team managed to pose a serious threat to their title aspirations.
Back in 2017 and 2018 the championship was fiercely fought between Lewis and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Although Vettel had the upper hand early on in both season, in the end Mercedes and Lewis managed to turn things around.
There was one difference though, there was no budget cap back then. This means that Mercedes was able to keep developing their car throughout the season, while now, due to the budget cap and F1’s new 2022 rules, the team has decided to shift their focus from their current car to their next year’s challenger.
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At the post Styrian Grand Prix press conference Lewis was asked about the differences between his championship fights with Vettel and his current fight with Verstappen.
“It’s much, much different,” Hamilton said.
“Obviously back then we did have upgrades, we had the great people we had behind us were constantly finding improvements.
“And yeah, it’s obviously now more flat and yeah, it’s just different. It was a great battle back then. Tried to give the best I could.
“I think most of this season has been really good battle between the two of us with the very, very close performance of the cars but obviously that’s just shifted,” concluded the Briton.