Max Verstappen reminds Franz Tost of Ayrton Senna with his “willingness to take risks” and his “will to absolutely win”.
This year’s championship has seen Verstappen emerge as Lewis Hamilton’s only rival for the World title, and the Red Bull driver is doing a good job in his first title challenge.
With seven races remaining in this campaign, he has seven wins on the board and sits just two points behind Hamilton.
But while Verstappen has more wins than the Mercedes driver, he has also more retirements – three to one.
Two of those are the result of crashes with Hamilton, the Dutchman into the barriers at Silverstone and in the gravel – along with Hamilton – at Monza.
Such is Verstappen’s style, and his gung-ho attitude on track, billed as aggression by Mercedes, that Tost reckons he reminds him of the late Senna.
“I think he is most likely to go in the direction of Senna in terms of his willingness to take risks and the will to absolutely win,” he told Sport1.de.
Tost knows Verstappen well having worked with the Dutchman at Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri, in 2015 and early 2016.
He feels the 24-year-old’s talent was evident even before he made his F1 debut at just 17 years of age.
“I’ve known him since karting days,” Tost said. “He has absolute car control. He has zero speed problems and is always in control.
“He has an extreme feeling for the car and the tyres and can do that. In addition, his father Jos gave him an extremely good basic education. After that, nothing could surprise him anymore.”
Lessons that are paying off today. Verstappen sits just two points behind Hamilton with many pundits billing their rivalry as one for the ages.
Asked if he agreed, the AlphaTauri team boss said: “Definitely. There will still be some exciting racing scenes in the future.
“And as for me, I would be happy if Max wins the title in the end.”
The Austrian reckons Verstappen has the mental fortitude to go the distance, saying his victory at his home race in Zandvoort proved that.
“The answer was his home race at Zandvoort. If you can dominate in front of the frenetic fans in your home country with all the pressure of expectation, you no longer have to fear anything.
“That impressed me so much.
“Max cannot be thrown off balance. He focuses from race to race. He wants to win every race. If a collision is to be avoided, then he will. If not, then not. Then he just crashes. And that’s that!”
Planet F1 verdict
It's still too soon to compare Max Verstappen to Senna
Franz Tost is the latest of many to compare Max Verstappen to Ayrton Senna. While there are undoubtedly similarities between the two, the Dutchman needs to achieve more.