Max Verstappen says Lewis Hamilton will win “well over 100” Formula 1 races after breaking the all-time victory record in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Hamilton matched Schumacher’s tally of 91 wins two weeks ago at the Nurburgring then went one better with a crushing performance at Algarve last weekend.
Though he is yet to commit his future beyond this season Hamilton is expected to return next year and with regulations staying mostly stable and teams having to carry over major car parts from 2020, he has a realistic shot at a season with multiple victories and a bid for an eighth title.
Red Bull driver Verstappen, a frontrunner to take over from Hamilton as F1’s leading driver when Hamilton stops, said he and Hamilton had spoken about the record after the Portuguese GP.
“Lewis says he keeps pushing because he wants to set it very high,” said Verstappen. “I have to work hard to try to get there!
“It’s amazing. What can you say? It’s just incredible. An incredible achievement. Ninety-two victories and I don’t think it stops there. It will go well over 100.
“He’s pushing me to go until I’m 40 years old, or something. It’s a good motivation as well.
“It’s incredible. It looks like he’s also going for his seven world titles, which is very impressive.
“Everybody knows he’s very quick but what has also been a very strong point is that he’s also very consistent and very rarely makes a mistake.
“That’s also why I think he got to this number so quick. It’s just very impressive.”
Verstappen, 12 years Hamilton’s junior, is now the age Hamilton was when he won his first title.
He has the same number of wins – nine – that Hamilton had at 23, although Hamilton was only in his second year of F1 while Verstappen is now in his sixth after his record-breaking young start.
Red Bull wanted to make Verstappen the youngest world champion in history but that has not happened and Verstappen has already said this year he has made peace with the frustration of still waiting for a title shot.
He said at Algarve that it is a “good motivation” to persevere without the prospect of a championship challenge as he still has to “get the best out of it”.
“I can enjoy third [place] or second if I know that I push myself to the limit, I push the car to the limit and I know that the team did everything they could,” said Verstappen.
“Today they guys did a few amazing pitstops again. Stuff like that motivates me but also motivates them. I take my enjoyment out of that.
“Everybody loves winning, that’s why we are here, but if it’s not possible, it’s not possible. Youngest world champion? I don’t think that when I’m 40 or 50 years old I care a lot about those kind of things.
“I just want to look back when I’m at that stage and I look at myself in the mirror and say ‘did you get the most out of yourself?’.
“If you can say yes, then I’m happy about that because if that means you win seven titles or whatever or zero, you need a bit of luck for that as well, to be at the right team at the right time.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that but we’ll see. I still have a few years ahead of me, so hopefully things will change.”
Hamilton won 21 races in six seasons with McLaren before joining Mercedes in 2013, when he won just one grand prix.
However, that decision was made with a view to the new engine regulations coming in for 2014 and Hamilton’s move has been handsomely rewarded with 71 victories in total with Mercedes and what is set to be a sixth championship in seven years.
“I knew that we would win championships,” said Hamilton. “Did I think we would win as many as we have? No. Did I think we would win this many races? Of course not.
“But it is a phenomenal time for us and the great thing is that it’s not just me that is living with the history, it’s the whole team and I think everyone acknowledges and realises how much they are part of it, so I feel incredibly grateful to my team-mates.
“To Valtteri [Bottas], for being the contender he is, the team-mate he is, for pushing the team forwards – we’re generally rowing in the same direction whilst we are competing, and it’s been a privilege to work with him.
“So, what a time to be alive.”