Mario Andretti: Max Verstappen a ‘perfect example’ of a World Champion

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

Max Verstappen is a “perfect example” of an F1 World Champion, according to 1978 title winner Mario Andretti.

Andretti has come out singing Verstappen’s praises after the Dutch driver wrapped up his second World Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen came home a dominant winner at Suzuka after a thrilling first-corner battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was hit with a post-race penalty, dropping him to third and wrapping up a second consecutive title for Verstappen.

Andretti appeared on Sky F1’s Any Driven Monday in the aftermath of the Japanese race, saying Verstappen’s 2022 win dispelled any doubts over last season’s victory.

“There’s nothing better than being able to repeat a championship, especially after all that went on at the end of last year, doubts and so on and so forth,” he said.

“But he is deserving, as you can see, obviously, in the best possible way – dominating so far this season, and he will probably dominate the rest of the way. He’s just a perfect example of what a World Champion should be.”

Mario Andretti: Max Verstappen is complete

Commenting on where he feels Verstappen’s greatest strengths lie as the Dutch driver starts building an enviable legacy within the sport, Andretti said he believes the Red Bull driver is now a fully polished competitor.

“He’s where he needs to be right now, I mean he’s complete,” he said.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022. points

“That’s all I can say. When he is so capable in qualifying, that’s a premium where you start up front in Formula 1.

“And then his racecraft is superb, of course – a lot of credit to the team [there] because the strategies are always right on. When you have all that going for you, that’s it. He’s a tough one to beat at the moment and that looks like it’s there for the foreseeable future for sure.”

No stranger to success himself in the world of F1 and IndyCar, Andretti was asked whether he would have had any interest in competing against such a formidable foe during his own days on track.

“Anyone that’s in the game, I always liked to be able to measure yourself against the very best out there,” he commented.

“I’m sure some of the young drivers are thinking today that if you can measure up to that level, you know you definitely belong there and that’s a great feeling.

“It’s something that gives you some confidence, which is huge. He always tried to go for the top and then, right now, Max is showing them the way.”

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