What makes Max Verstappen so good? World Champion driver offers key insight

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Red Bull sim driver and Formula E Champion Jake Dennis has tried to pinpoint what makes Max Verstappen such a standout talent, having first-hand experience of working with him.

Defending Formula E World Champion Jake Dennis, who also works as Red Bull’s simulator and development driver, has weighed in on the topic of Max Verstappen’s talents, with the Dutch driver having won three consecutive world titles and eyeing up his fourth.

Jake Dennis: The feeling Max Verstappen has, I’ve ‘never seen before’

Speaking to Chris Stevens on the Missed Apex podcast, the Red Bull sim driver addressed the topic of Verstappen’s talents. Dennis has been a frequent test driver for Red Bull over the past five years, and also took part in FP1 in last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix before carrying out the young driver test following the season end.

Having first-hand experience of working alongside Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Dennis said there’s no doubt in his mind the machinery the two drivers have is completely equal – it’s just Verstappen makes all the difference.

“I actually wish I knew, to be honest, he’s just so talented!” Dennis laughed, when asked what makes Verstappen so good.

“I think people are always looking for an answer to be like, ‘Oh, he’s really good on the brakes and he gains one-tenth on every corner on the brakes’.

“But it’s just not. The feeling he has underneath the car is something that I’ve never seen before.

“When I jumped into the Red Bull [RB19], it felt very natural to drive and very normal. I drove Max’s car in FP1 and drove Checo’s [Perez’s] car on Tuesday and they felt absolutely identical.

“It’s just the feeling and decision he has and, obviously, the confidence is just like I’ve never experienced before and I think he just has absolute trust in everyone around him – the team is very much at one with him as well and it all just clicks.

“But, he’s very dedicated as well. I think that’s what people can often see short past on.

“He’s in a sim a lot more than Checo and puts in a lot of effort. Even after he won the championship last year super early, he was still coming in the simulator and working extremely hard and putting in the hours when he’s already Champion.”

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Jake Dennis: Current F1 cars not as nimble as before

With his testing role having taken in drives in the previous generation F1 cars before the current ground-effect regulations, Dennis also offered some insight into how the current cars feel compared to the older ones.

“I think the biggest thing is the power and acceleration you have nowadays – nothing can come close to it,” he said.

“Even after that full day I did in Abu Dhabi, where I did 130 laps or whatever, I was still blown away every time I accelerated by how quick the thing was.

“Not so much on zero to 60, because Formula E is honestly just as good in that department. But it’s really from like 100 to 200 km/h, it’s ridiculous how much power that thing has.

“They’re just so heavy nowadays. When I jump in it,  even compared to Formula E, it doesn’t feel that nice at a slow speed compared to Formula E. They’re very nimble and agile, whereas the F1 cars are very heavy.

“They still rotate pretty well, and they get around the corner quite quickly, but the [previous generation] car was definitely a bit more agile and nimble in the slower-speed stuff.”

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