This weekend sees the highly-anticipated return of Formula One, and with it, the return of one of the biggest rivalries the world of sport has seen in many years.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s 2021 battle went down in history, and millions wait with bated breath to see how their 2022 showdown will play out.
It begins in Bahrain, and will end once again in Abu Dhabi, with a huge season of ups and downs seemingly beginning in the second practice ahead of Sunday’s race and one that is set to continue to unfold. But how do they match up?
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the tale of the tape, rating each of the F1 protagonists in a series of categories to see who has the upper hand heading into the season…
Clearly there is only one winner in this category. Hamilton has been around for many years, first racing for McLaren in 2007. At the age of 37, he is among the elder statesmen of the grid, and has the most race wins of all-time: 103 and counting.
As he looks to wrestle back the championship from Verstappen in 2022, he will have to use every ounce of race knowledge he has – but it appears that hunger and will to win still burns bright in him.
Verstappen, meanwhile, is among the youngest drivers on the grid – but that doesn’t mean he is lacking in experience. His first race in F1 came in 2015 with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, although he had earlier driven in a practice session in 2014 at the age of just 17 years and three days.
Therefore, they are both far from newbies to the world of F1 and both have the nous to succeed this season. Overall, though, Hamilton just nicks this one.
This is a difficult category to judge, because who is to say that a feistier driving style is necessarily worse than a cool and collected one? But it is fair to say Hamilton and Verstappen fit into very different selections here… it is very much night and day when it comes to the way they approach each race.
For Hamilton, there is very rarely an outburst on team radio, and he is a fair racer, giving his opponents space… he drives with care and respect for the other drivers.
Verstappen, meanwhile, is notoriously hard when it comes to overtakes. He takes risks, puts his car in tight spaces and will call your bluff to complete a move. Either you move, or there will be a crash.
Hamilton and Verstappen clashed multiple times last season, but ultimately it was Verstappen’s sheer desire that got him over the line to secure his first ever drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi.
Sorry, but we have to sit on the fence with this one… their styles are very different, but there’s just nothing to split them
Now, this one is interesting. Let’s delve into the statistics to see how they stack up, starting with 2021 – the most recent full season, and one that Verstappen edged in the final race.
This is perhaps the fairest way to compare them, because in seasons prior to that, Hamilton was in a far superior car and therefore easily comes out on top in terms of pole positions and fastest qualifying laps.
According to the data on FormulaOnePoints.com, last season Verstappen secured 10 pole positions compared with Hamilton’s 10, and the Red Bull man was faster in 13 races, compared with Hamilton’s nine.
Therefore, it seems at the moment that Verstappen has the edge over his bitter rival. Perhaps this comes back to the previous category, in a way… while Hamilton is cool and collected, a trait which may help him over the course of 70 or 80 laps on raceday, Verstappen’s risky style sees him put it all on the line for his push laps in quali.