Max Verstappen discusses what separates the good F1 drivers from the great

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen conducting parc ferme interview. Hungaroring July 2022.

Max Verstappen has discussed which attributes he thinks separate the best drivers from the rest in Formula 1.

The World Champion did not say as much but is clearly in the elite group himself, being firmly on course to retain his title as he sits 80 points clear in the standings heading for the resumption after the summer break.

There are, of course, only 20 current F1 drivers, with many more eyeing a seat in the future and, as the Red Bull man pointed out, others who would have been worthy of a place had the cards fallen their way only to miss out.

But when it comes to the crunch, the absolute top bracket, those few who stand on a pedestal above the others, have certain qualities that set them apart, in the eyes of the Dutchman.

 

Verstappen laughing all the way to a 2nd title

Max Verstappen has driven superbly, but has also had a helping hand from Ferrari along the way.

 

“I think when a driver really comes into play, and what makes the difference, is in tricky conditions or when you are really fighting with another team, those last few percentages,” said Verstappen during an interview with YouTube’s Hugo Decrypte.

“There are so many good drivers out there in the world, even people who are not in Formula 1. They might be driving in endurance [racing] but they are also very good and just because of random luck or just circumstances they didn’t get to drive in Formula 1.

“But the ones who are in Formula 1, between the good and the very good, is in these very decisive moments – if it’s a rain race or in general very difficult conditions, or in a very important qualifying session, to be up there.

“That’s when you can make the difference. Or score just a little bit more points than, let’s say, your team-mate.”

One of Verstappen’s 19 rivals is, of course, his team-mate Sergio Perez, the duo having combined to give Red Bull a huge 97-point lead at the top of the Constructors’ Championship over Ferrari.

Although only one of them can win any given race, Verstappen compared the situation at Red Bull to that of two footballers in a squad who are vying for one position in a line-up – but it remains a harmonious association.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, talk post-race. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

“It’s the same in football,” said the 24-year-old. “You see the squad, 11 players on the pitch, but there are also people on the bench trying to get that spot.

“At the end of the day you are still working for the team and you want to have the best result, and that’s exactly how we do it as well.

“I think we work really well together, we have a good relationship, also off the track we can have conversations about anything – sometimes it’s really nice because you don’t have to talk about racing and just talk about other stuff.

“He’s (Perez) a great guy and it’s nice as well for the team when the two drivers get along really well.”