Verstappen ‘on the same level’ as Senna – Berger

Mon, 9 October 2023, 09:00

Oct.9 (GMM) With the championship now all decided and a full five grands prix left to run in 2023, column inches will be full of the proposition: Is Max Verstappen the best Formula 1 driver of all time.

F1 legend Gerhard Berger, a friend of the Red Bull team, is arguably best known for being teammate at McLaren to the great Ayrton Senna.

The Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport asked him: is Verstappen even better than his fellow triple-world champion Senna was?

“I’ve always seen Senna as the greatest of all time,” Berger said. “But I have to say that Max is on the same level.

“He doesn’t make mistakes, he is always fast in any condition – wet, dry, fast or slow tracks, he is always in front. He is truly an excellent driver.

“I think he and Senna are drivers we will remember forever.”

And what about the comparison between Verstappen, 26, and another great former driver – seven time world champion Michael Schumacher?

Mika Salo replaced Schumacher at Ferrari for a time when the German broke his leg in 1999, and the Finn told Ilta Sanomat newspaper: “Michael never had quite as superior a car as Max has now.

“But in principle, they’re very similar. Michael made mistakes at times, he was aggressive and ruthless, but in my opinion he never had a car as fast as Max has at Red Bull compared to the others,” Salo added.

“But he also got a little more resistance from his own teammates than Verstappen has.”

Another question that will be hotly debated in the remaining races of 2023 is whether Verstappen and Red Bull will be challenged any harder by their rivals next year.

Berger answered: “You can never know about that.

“Next year everyone will have a new car and hope the gap will be smaller because it is more spectacular to see. But if we remove Max we can already see a good championship, because Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes are all on a similar level.”

The Austrian was also by the Italian newspaper if Ferrari’s drivers are up to the task of taking on Verstappen.

“They have two excellent drivers,” said Berger, also a former Ferrari driver.

“(Charles) Leclerc is very fast on the flying lap in qualifying, while (Carlos) Sainz is very consistent in the race. I think there are strategic or other problems at Ferrari, but the drivers are certainly good.”

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