Revealed: The ‘Champion’ trait Max Verstappen has in common with Michael Schumacher

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) celebrates after setting pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) celebrates after setting pole position for the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Legendary F1 reporter Roger Benoit believes Max Verstappen has the same “over-ambition” he recognised in Michael Schumacher during the Ferrari icon’s storied career.

The winner of 37 of the last 58 races since the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021, Verstappen is rapidly emerging as the most gifted driver of his generation.

The Red Bull star recently broke the record for the most consecutive victories for a single driver by securing his 10th successive triumph at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and is almost certain to be crowned a three-time World Champion, aged just 25, in the coming weeks.

How Max Verstappen compares to Michael Schumacher

The scale of Verstappen’s success has led some – including former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan – to suggest that he is on a trajectory which will one day see him remembered as the greatest driver in F1 history.

Schumacher achieved a then-unprecedented level of dominance at the turn of the century, winning five consecutive titles with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 to become the first driver in history to win seven World Championships – a figure only matched by Lewis Hamilton in 2020.

The German was renowned for his aggressive and uncompromising approach, with his career peppered by a number of controversies with other drivers.

Verstappen was also accused of stepping over the line during his 2021 struggle against Hamilton, with the pair making contact at Silverstone, Monza and Jeddah as the season edged towards its controversial Abu Dhabi climax.

In a recent interview with Swiss-German publication Blick on his career in F1, Benoit was asked if he ever truly understood the kind of character Schumacher was.

He replied: “I can’t really answer the question today. My analysis shows: He is an exceptional figure who never really felt comfortable in his own skin.

“He often made things difficult for himself with his over-ambition. Just like Max Verstappen sometimes does today.

“But the really great Champions are all like that. That Schumi would also become like that was already seen [in his] 1992 test drives.”

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Benoit’s assessment comes after former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger recently claimed that Verstappen and Ayrton Senna are the most gifted drivers of his lifetime, with both ahead of Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.

“Verstappen and Senna are unique in the business – they are the two best I have seen in the last 50 years,” Berger, who spent three seasons as Senna’s team-mate at McLaren between 1990 and 1992, told Austria’s Kronen Zeitung.

“Schumacher and Hamilton are also exceptional drivers. Of course, you should always look at the statistics, they are both fantastic.

“But Senna died early – and Verstappen is still young.”

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