Lewis Hamilton “will” have an advantage over Max Verstappen because of the characteristics of the new cars, according to Sergey Sirotkin.
Verstappen pipped Hamilton to last year’s Drivers’ Championship title, the Dutchman securing it with a last-lap-of-the-season pass.
It was a controversial conclusion to what was a thrilling season, Verstappen and Hamilton evenly matched as the duo claimed 14 1-2 results in 22 grands prix.
Verstappen’s win in the championship brought Hamilton’s four-year reign to an end, also blocking the Mercedes driver from bagging what would have been a record-breaking eighth World title.
Hamilton will be back on the grid this season, the Briton telling the world “I’m back” after weeks of silence, with Sirotkin believing the all-new 2022 cars could suit his driving style more than Verstappen’s.
“This year we will of course get completely new cars,” he wrote in his latest FORMULA 1 Magazine column.
“These should be slower in the corners, which means you have to brake longer and more for this. Compared to last year, you spend more time.
“This will mainly be to Hamilton’s advantage, again especially on tracks where it matters such as Barcelona and Budapest.
“Nobody knows exactly how the 2022 cars will fare, of course, but the fact that in theory they will be a little more difficult to drive may be somewhat beneficial to Hamilton as he controls his car’s balance so well.”
This season, Formula 1 is introducing sweeping changes based around a move to ground-effect aerodynamics as the sport’s bosses want to create more overtaking by allowing drivers to follow each other closely for longer.
Speaking about Hamilton’s style, the former Williams driver explained: “When you talk about that control over the brakes, rotation and weight transfer at the entry of a corner, Lewis is definitely number one on the grid.
“Lewis knows how to ‘load’ the front axle very well because he has such good feel and control of the brakes. So it actually becomes a sum.
“Because of this gift, he can take more speed with him at the beginning of the corner and take a profit there, while that extra speed also gives him a better rotation halfway through the corner.
“Because he can rotate the car so well, Lewis can also better position the car in front of the exit of the corner.
“Although I usually don’t think Lewis is the best driver in terms of exits – but we’ll get to that later with Max. However, the time Lewis gains earlier in the corner is much more than what he potentially loses on someone who has a better exit.”
Verstappen has a very different style, says the Russian driver.
“That may sound strange, but Max is actually doing the opposite of Lewis, using every millimetre of the track to make corners less square,” he said.
“Max does this by using as much runway as possible for both entry and exit. When entering a bend and halfway through, he always positions the car at the best possible angle to get out of the bend as quickly as possible.
“You can really see this in how Max sits further out before entering a corner and also comes out further out. Thus, it always ‘opens’ corners a few degrees more than the rest. This way he can brake on the right, take more speed into the corner and get back on the gas early. This saves him a lot of time. Max has a natural gift in this regard and stands out far above the rest.”
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