Unless you support Max Verstappen we all owe Lewis Hamilton a big thank you

Red Bull and Max Verstappen deserve praise for their outstanding achievements since 2022 began, but even the Dutchman admits that F1 would benefit more from a strong championship match.

Celebrate! People, this is what we’ve been waiting for.

Not specifically, though many were eagerly awaiting the seven-time champion’s next victory—Lewis Hamilton hadn’t won in 945 days. But in terms of the bigger picture of Formula 1, it’s what his victory at Silverstone signifies.

Red Bull has not had things all their own way for a few months now. It was pretty amazing that they were able to maintain their unmatched dominance for two whole seasons, and I firmly feel that they should never be held back for their achievements.

If you’re not a devoted fan of the team or Max Verstappen, however, we also can’t deny that their unparalleled speed rendered Formula One boring as dishwater. Going into every race weekend knowing that the Dutchman is virtually guaranteed to win at a canter is by no means exciting.

Fortunately, though, a far healthier struggle has emerged, and competition is once more present. Red Bull CEO Christian Horner had been predicting that the gap would eventually close because his team was playing much closer to its potential, and that has now happened.

The most reliable competitors thus far have been McLaren, especially with Lando Norris. Although he acknowledges that he ought to have a few more wins under his belt after his one-race victory in Miami, a string of indiscretions have proved costly, and he is still waiting for his second career victory. In the drivers’ championship, Norris lost ground to Verstappen once more after placing third at Silverstone behind the Dutchman.

However, since that victory in Miami, he has been a constant pain in Verstappen’s side, and teammate Oscar Piastri is also frequently vying for pole position. If the team hadn’t made the terrible decision to keep him out on a wet track on slick tires for an extra lap while everyone else dove into pit lane, he might have had the opportunity to win the British Grand Prix.

This season, Ferrari has also won twice: first, in Australia, where Carlos Sainz triumphed after Verstappen’s brakes caught fire, and then in Monaco, where Charles Leclerc finally won his home race after Red Bull had a terrible weekend.

Although they haven’t played as well as they could have in the past few weeks, manager Frederic Vasseur is optimistic about a speedy comeback to the winning mix. And now Mercedes has emerged as a leader in the development of their temperamental cars, after two years of battling to make any significant progress.

Verstappen and Norris’s collision during their race for the lead gave George Russell the victory in Austria, but Hamilton and his team won at Silverstone on merit, and Russell’s teammate was also in the running until a water system problem forced him to retire.

F1 in 2024 already has as many winners as the incredible 2021 season, with six different winners from the 12 races this term. The last campaign with more winners was in 2012 (eight). There’s no reason Piastri and perhaps one or two others can’t add their names to the list with a dozen rounds remaining.

At last, the Formula One is once more shrouded in mystery. These days, we go into every race with the belief that any one of the seven drivers could win. If Sergio Perez gets his act together before Red Bull decides it’s time to let him go, that number might rise to eight.

Naturally, supporters of Verstappen and Red Bull would rather see their favorites triumph each week. For all others, however, the next eighteen months leading up to the next wave of regulatory changes are sure to be an exciting ride.

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