Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey has worked with his fair share of World Champions over the years and says Max Verstappen is up there with the best of them.
The Dutchman became the seventh different driver to win a World Championship in a Newey-designed car when he took the title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, recording an 11th Drivers’ title in a car chiefly designed by the current Red Bull technical boss.
Verstappen now joins exceptional company as Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and Sebastian Vettel have all taken titles under Newey’s designs – having also worked alongside Ayrton Senna and Kimi Raikkonen among plenty of other talented drivers throughout his esteemed career.
Unsurprisingly then, the question came as to how Formula 1’s newest World Champion stacks up against the rest.
“It’s such a difficult one, [but] he’s got to be right up there, hasn’t he? We go across different periods but he’s the real deal,” Newey said to Sky Sports F1 after the race.
Christian Horner was convinced the stewards had come to the right verdict in dismissing Mercedes’ appeals in Abu Dhabi, confirming Max Verstappen as World Champion.https://t.co/Rex6QQ87sk #f1 pic.twitter.com/dP3OMeP2TD
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 13, 2021
Verstappen’s style of hard racing has come under scrutiny at times this season in his battles against Lewis Hamilton on track, but Newey believes he is still “fair” in how he drives.
The Dutchman became only the fourth driver in Formula 1 history to win a World Championship under the age of 25, and Newey thinks he still has a long way to go to reach his best in the future – and he enjoys the work ethic Verstappen brings to the team.
“Yes, he’s aggressive, but I think generally he’s very fair. He’s got such talent, such drive,” Newey explained.
“He’s still so young. He’s on a steep learning curve still, he’s just amazing. And the best thing about him is he’s just so easy to work with.
“There are no airs, no pretences, he just comes in and gets on with it. I love the guy, he’s amazing.”
Newey admitted after the race that of all the times he has been involved in a World Championship victory, Sunday’s events were the time when he has come “closest to a heart attack” with the nerves on the pit wall.
Red Bull achieve their ultimate goal
Things fell Max Verstappen's way in the end, but Red Bull played the team game to perfection.