As Max Verstappen inches closer to securing his third Formula 1 world championship at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, the debate has intensified. Some have begun to liken him to legendary figures like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. However, Lewis Hamilton, a living legend himself, has pushed back against such comparisons.

Hamilton’s reverence for Senna, whose impact on Formula 1 remains undeniable, is well-documented. As a child, Hamilton idolized the Brazilian racing legend and even modeled his first helmet design after Senna’s iconic style. However, Hamilton has chosen not to engage in the debate comparing Senna and the current F1 champion.

“I wouldn’t rank him,” Hamilton stated during a press conference. “I think ranking people is an opinion-based thing. I think he’s earned his position, he’s done an amazing job with the package that he has, him and the team have been phenomenal this year, faultless.”

Hamilton acknowledged the exceptional performance of Verstappen and his team, recognizing that they have set a new standard in Formula 1. He continued, “And I think they’ve raised the bar, and as a team, we have to look at that and go ‘okay, these are the areas that we have to be better to be able to match that and compete.”

While Hamilton expressed his hope for future battles with Verstappen, he emphasized the importance of savoring the moment. “I do hope at some stage we can fight and actually have them in that defending position. But they should definitely enjoy the moment because they did the work for it.”

Verstappen’s championship win appears imminent, especially after the sprint race, as long as he maintains a top-six finish on Saturday at the Losail International Circuit. Some fans have criticized the championship-deciding format, calling it anti-climactic, but Hamilton has remained focused on his own performance.

Hamilton finds himself 33 points behind Sergio Perez in the race for second place in the drivers’ championship. Meanwhile, Mercedes leads Ferrari by just 20 points in the constructors’ standings. When asked about these standings, Hamilton stated, “I don’t really have a view on it if I’m really honest. I’m not in that fight, I’m nothing to do with his championship. I’m just fighting to do my job the best I can and get the team to where I’m hoping to.”