The ‘tool’ that’s made Max Verstappen ‘the best’ F1 has ever seen

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen stands on his RB19 and celebrates. Canada June 2023

Max Verstappen stands on his RB19 and celebrates after taking Red Bull's 100th F1 race win. Canada June 2023

Spending a lot of his time away from the F1 circuits racing in sim events, Gerhard Berger reckons that’s the “tool” that’s given Max Verstappen added insight into racing.

Last season, Verstappen romped unchallenged to the 2023 World title, his third on the trot, as he claimed 19 of the championship’s 22 race wins.

Arguably the most dominant campaign ever as he finished all but one Grand Prix on the podium and wrapped up the title with six Grands Prix to spare, Verstappen equalled Ayrton Senna on three World titles, although he’s still a long way off the record of seven that’s held by Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

Max Verstappen v Senna and Schumacher?

Already, though, he’s being mentioned alongside the sport’s greats.

With three Drivers’ titles, 54 Grand Prix wins, 98 podiums and 30 fastest laps, the Red Bull driver is climbing the all-time lists for many of F1’s most notable records.

But does Berger rank him up there with Senna or Schumacher?

“I’m a bit biased about the question,” the former Ferrari driver told Auto Motor und Sport. “Because I drove with and against Ayrton Senna, I usually put him first.

“But that’s where the question begins: How do you evaluate something like that?

“Actually it only works with facts or figures. And then you have to put Michael Schumacher first. Senna impressed with his talent and supernatural abilities in the car.

“But now that we have one in Max Verstappen, I doubt whether my old rating is still correct. Max didn’t make a mistake last season. At least that happened to Senna every now and then.” recommends

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What is the key to Max Verstappen’s F1 success?

Joining the Formula 1 grid in 2015 at just 17 years of age, Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull’s senior team in 2016 and won on his debut at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Five years later he bagged his first World title in a thrilling fight against Hamilton and today is a three-time World Champion.

Berger puts that down to the time he spends competing in virtual simulator races which have honed his talent.

“Senna and Schumacher benefited from racing karts from an early age and doing nothing else in life other than racing. This applies to all drivers today,” he said.

“But Verstappen still drives virtual races on the simulator in his free time. Sometimes three a day. So he is always busy with this topic.

“He thinks through where you can overtake and where you can’t. Neither Senna, Schumacher nor Hamilton had this tool.

“It’s just noticeable that Max is always in the right place. At the start, in the first corner, in a duel. I can’t think of anything that could be done better than him. That’s why Max Verstappen is probably the best we’ve ever seen in Formula 1.”

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