Former F1 team boss names one driver who could challenge Max Verstappen

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has been in all-conquering form of late.

Former Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer said the driver he would pair with Max Verstappen to provide him with a challenge would be Lando Norris.

The partnership of Norris and Verstappen is not a new idea and indeed looked close to a reality until the McLaren man signed a new deal with the Woking side ahead of the 2024 season, but Szafnauer believes he is the one driver who could challenge Verstappen.

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Verstappen is in pretty much unbeatable form currently having won all but two races since the Miami Grand Prix last year and a fourth world title for the Dutchman looks a matter of when, not if.

That has naturally led to the question of if there is any driver on the grid who could challenge Verstappen in equal machinery and Szafnauer has put forward one name.

“You guys are as good at guessing at that as I am but who would you put up against Max?” he asked during an interview with select media including PlanetF1.com.

“For me? I love Lewis [Hamilton]. I think he’s done a wonderful job but he’s at a different age in his career.

“I would stick Lando next to Max to see what happens, personally. I’m not saying Lando should do that.”

Norris himself said he was “not scared” of going up against Verstappen but admitted it would be a tough task.

“Is Max one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1? Absolutely. I think he’s proved that enough,” the 24-year-old told Sky Sports.

“He’s in a team which he’s very comfortable in, a lot of things are built up around him, so for anyone, even a Max of a few years ago, to go in against the Max of now is extremely difficult.

“So I don’t think it’s a question of ‘are you scared or not scared?’ I don’t think I’d ever be scared of going against anyone, but even if you enter a team are you in a position to challenge someone straight away and are you comfortable to do that? I think it’s a ‘no’ for any driver.

“It takes time to adapt and it takes time to get into place and if you want to go against the best driver in the world it’s not the best thing to do. It’s not a smart move to do.

“But I would love to race against Max. I’ve enjoyed some of the battles that we’ve had and looking even more forward to the battles that we’re going to have this year.”

Expanding on his Hamilton comment, Szafnauer praised Hamilton’s ability to somehow always get the job done.

“The thing I respect about Lewis is he worked super hard and he is a great racer,” the 59-year-old said. “Doesn’t matter where he is.

“I watched the last race [in China] and I think he was behind one of the Alpines and he said ‘I can’t catch him’.

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“And I’m looking at the lap times and I’m thinking he’s right, the lap times are very similar. And where does he finish? In the points.

“Somehow he managed to do it. He’s a great racer and he doesn’t give up. The other thing I like about him too is he’s very respectful on the race track.”

Szafnauer is chairman of EventR which is an app designed to change the way individuals and companies manage their corporate and personal travel and event plans.

The app provides a simple user experience, where users can add their travel plans, including flights, hire cars, hotels and events, once your travel plans have been added to the app, they can then be shared with your travel partners or family, all those important details such as flight numbers and hotel bookings are then displayed on a timeline to all your fellow travellers.

More information can be found here or by downloading the app or the App/Google Play store.

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