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Former Racer Justin Bell Thinks Lewis Hamilton Can Still Win Another F1 Title

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Formula 1 may be bigger than ever in the U.S., but this current season isn’t the reason why.

Motorsports commentator Justin Bell was on hand Monday to discuss the state of racing’s premiere competition with our Viju Mathew at Robb Report’s House of Robb at the Wynn Las Vegas. The Drive to Wynn podcast host went into detail about the current season, Max Verstappen’s dominance, and whether he thinks other drivers can catch up.

The first Las Vegas Grand Prix will be held on the Strip this Saturday. There’s plenty of excitement surrounding the event, but it won’t have any bearing on who wins the driver’s championship despite being the second to last race of the season. That’s because Verstappen clinched his third straight title in Qatar at the beginning of last month, with six races to go.

Max Verstappen clinched his third straight driver's championship in Qatar in early October

Max Verstappen clinched his third straight driver’s championship in Qatar in early October

The lack of drama can be blamed, in part, on how Formula 1 has changed over the years, according to Bell. Overtaking is not as prevalent as it once was or is in other forms of racing. One reason is that F1 cars are nearly twice as wide as they used to be while track size has remained the same. Tire management has also taken on more importance than ever before.

“I hate the tire management, because I think Formula 1 is so pure, you should be able to run fast every lap,” he said. “Instead, they’re five or six seconds off the pace—that’s sports car stuff. You shouldn’t have to do that. But that is a very big dynamic part of it.”

Justin Bell and Viju Mathew at House of Robb at the Wynn Las Vegas

Justin Bell (left) and Viju Mathew (right) at House of Robb at the Wynn Las Vegas

A driver particularly well suited to the current moment is Verstappen. The Belgian is in the midst of an unprecedented run, having won 17 of 20 races this season (he’s finished second twice, too), and 42 of 64 going back to the 2021 campaign. Bell says that Verstappen will eventually be considered “one of the greatest drivers of history,” but that the entire Red Bull Racing team deserves credit for what he’s doing on the track week in and week out

“I think it’s absolutely everything,” Bell said. “[Red Bull Racing CTO Adrian] Newey is obviously a genius. The RB19 is the best car on the grid. I think they deploy their resources more strategically than the others. You don’t hear of any upgrades to their car. Everyone else is doing it now and they’re off in the distance.”

Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix

Bell thinks Lewis Hamilton can win a record-setting eight driver’s championship

Verstappen’s rise has come as Lewis Hamilton’s pursuit of a record-setting eighth driver’s championship has slowed. The British driver is still waiting for his first race victory since Verstappen edged him out at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial fashion to claim that season’s title. Bell believes that Hamilton, who will turn 39 in January, has it in him to get the title that will separate him from Michael Schumacher, but also acknowledged he has more on his shoulders than most drivers.

“Lewis is the guy that’s got to lift the whole team and those back at the factory,” Bell said. “I think [teammate George Russell] can be free of that and just concentrate on being the next great thing. So sometimes, Lewis suffers under that. But given the chance, I would love to see him do it. I mean, he is one of the best ever.”

Verstappen and Red Bull may have driven away with this year’s driver’s and constructor’s titles, but the 2024 F1 season is less than four months away. It remains to be seen if the team will still have the same car when the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix rolls around. And if they don’t anymore, then Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, and Carlos Sainz might give Verstappen a run for his title.



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