Max Verstappen has insisted he is not interested in greatest of all time comparisons even if Adrian Newey believes the Dutchman is amongst the best.
The Red Bull driver is cruising to a third World Championship in effortless style and despite being only 25, thoughts have already begun to turn to where Verstappen ranks in the all-time great list.
One man who believes Verstappen is amongst the very best is Newey, who said it was clear the Dutchman deserves to be spoken of in those terms.
Max Verstappen insists no focus on legacy as he zeros in on third title
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Speaking to Autosport, Newey said it was almost as if Verstappen drove the car in automatic, such was the Dutchman’s calmness when winning races.
“Max is clearly one of the all-time greats and he’s at the top of his game,” Newey said. “Since he won the championship in ’21 I think that took a took a lot of pressure off himself, and his driving has got a lot better for that.
“He’s totally in tune. The thing about Max, like all the real greats, is that you have the impression he almost drives the car on automatic, which leaves plenty of processing power to think about everything.”
But when those words were put to Verstappen, the championship leader insisted that is not something he puts any thought into.
“Everyone, of course, has their own opinion about these kinds of things,” he told media including PlanetF1.com in Monza. “But you know, for me, I’m not in F1 to try and prove that I belong between other people’s names who are the greats in the sport.
“I’m just here to try and do the best I can, and try to win as much as I can when I have the opportunity.
“It’s, for sure, a very enjoyable time to be driving the car but every single weekend there are always other things that come up and you have to optimise. It’s never a straightforward weekend.
“Of course, in a way, it’s almost like an automatic pilot but it also happens as you gain a lot more experience and I always think I had this kind of thing where you’re driving the car, you also think about a lot of other processes. It’s not something new suddenly.”
Verstappen is leading the 2023 championship by 145 points with eight races left to go.