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Max Verstappan’s Chillness Belies A Deep Desire To Win

It’s all in the 1000-mile stare.

By Leo Shvedsky
November 12 2021
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Lewis Hamilton and his 1000-mile stare. Shutterstock

There is a long standing tradition of rivalries in every sport. In baseball there’s the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, in boxing there was the famous and weird feud between Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson. Formula 1 is no different.

It seems nowadays that the crown of the famous rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda is now passing on to superstars Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. The rivalry has come to a head in this year’s season, with Verstappen ending up in the hospital after a crash with Hamilton at Silverstone.

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Max Verstappen prepares has his battle face on. Shutterstock

Indeed there are a few parallels between the Hunt/Lauda rivalry and the burgeoning Hamilton/Verstappen friction. Both drivers are at the top of their game – as of the writing of this article Verstappen leads the board this season with 312 points, Hamilton is right on this tail at 292 points. Both seem to be falling into the roles of arrogant hot head for Hamilton, while Verstappen is taking on the role of the calculating and zen-like chill master whose competitive ambitions landed him in the hospital.  

Verstappen in particular has been praised for his chill attitude by his racing partner on the Red Bull team Sergio Perez, with Perez saying, “He is just a very chill guy. There are no political things going around him, you know. He just enjoys driving, and we have had good fun in these couple of times we have spent together.” 

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Verstappen getting his laps in. Shutterstock 

But those words come from a current team mate at a time that Red Bull is doing a lot of publicity with their team’s two drivers. Some of the things said by former team mates, however, seem to convey a chillness born of a desire to win more than jedi-like zen-ness.  

Pierre Ghastly, who raced with Red Bull in 2019, spoke of Verstappen as “a cold, fast bastard,” with a desire to compete and to win, but with no drama. It’s important to remember for a moment that Formula 1, unlike any other sport, fosters competition between team mates and that at times leads to what can be considered as a healthy dose of friction.  

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Hamilton on a turn. Shutterstock 

But if Verstappen is the cool-headed Iceman of this Top Gun with cars, then Lewis Hamilton is definitely the Maverick who tried to get a cameo in the new Top Gun movie, but couldn’t do it.  But this Maverick was born brazen, reportedly asking McLaren team’s chief Ron Dennis to sign him to a contract when he was just 13 years old! 

If that doesn’t say everything then we don’t know what will! 

Related: Which Famous Racecar Driver Would Make the Best Bond? 



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