Ayrton Senna selected as F1’s ‘number one’ driver ahead of Max Verstappen

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen EA Sports partnership. February 2023.

Three-time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen.

Former F1 driver Christian Danner is convinced that Ayrton Senna remains the greatest driver in grand prix history despite the achievements of Max Verstappen.

Having secured his third consecutive World Championship at the recent Qatar Grand Prix at the age of just 26, Verstappen has now entered the conversation about the greatest drivers in the history of F1.

The Dutchman has won 39 of the last 61 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021 and this year broke the record for the most consecutive wins for a single driver with 10 straight victories between Miami in May and Monza in September.

Max Verstappen: Better than Ayrton Senna?

Despite Verstappen joining the all-time greats in 2023, Danner – who made 36 grand prix starts between 1985 and 1989 – believes Senna is still the greatest.

He told Servus TV: “Senna would have sold his grandma if it meant going two tenths faster. He had an incredible level of concentration. That’s why he remains the number one driver for me. For me, that element, the charisma is added to it.

“It is a criterion of our time that drivers are so focused that there is hardly any time. But Senna had such a wide horizon.

“Senna still had to decide everything himself, what he did on the track. Verstappen has all the data from the simulator. I say each of the two was fabulous in his time.”

Fellow pundit Gerhard Berger, who spent three seasons as Senna’s team-mate at McLaren from 1990, was full of admiration for Senna – but outlined his belief that Verstappen is currently on a trajectory to become the best driver in history.

He explained: “I have already seen Max Verstappen in Formula 3. [Red Bull advisor] Helmut Marko was also involved. He said about Max back then: he could do it – let’s just put him in!”

“We both experienced Ayrton. Also as a team and in the same car. We travelled to a new country and then there was a request at the team from the president who just wanted to meet Ayrton.”

“It’s insanely difficult [to partner a driver of that calibre]. Until then, I didn’t have a big issue with my team-mates. But with Senna it was all about fitness, all his racing intelligence.

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“I noticed there was no area where he had weaknesses. It’s similar with Max. But it was no reason to create an enemy image for him. I then accepted that.

“Ayrton was a giant for me. But you can’t get to the top without karting, [Fernando] Alonso said that too. All this simulator work comes on top of that.

“Max has learned all that already. He has learned how to position himself. I think Max will develop into the best driver.”

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