Guenther Steiner believes that, in equal cars, it would be Max Verstappen who would stand above the rest of the Formula 1 field as it stands.
Which driver would come out on top in equal machinery is a question that has transcended the generations in Formula 1, but the meritocracy within which the sport operates means that it is one that is unlikely to ever be fully answered.
Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are the two most recent World Champions and the two drivers who are usually the prime selections for the equal car debate, but all things being level, the former Haas team boss believes it would be the Dutchman who would emerge victorious over everyone.
Guenther Steiner: Max Verstappen would come out on top in equal F1 cars
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
Verstappen ended the 2023 season with a record 19 victories from 22 races, having led over 1,000 racing laps and moved himself to third on the all-time list of Formula 1 race victories, with only Hamilton and Michael Schumacher now ahead of him.
Answering fan questions at the recent Autosport International show in his first public appearance since his dismissal by Haas, Steiner was asked who he believes would win in the current Formula 1 field in an equal car.
After joking that he would be making people upset by offering a response before being reminded that he no longer has loyalties to a team to consider, he responded: “I would say Max would win in the moment.
“You know, he’s just on a good ride, he’s driving so well, he has got the confidence, he’s not making mistakes. He’s just in a good place in the moment.”
On the current Haas duo that Steiner hired for the team, he believes that Nico Hulkenberg in particular showed his chops over one lap on his full-time return to Formula 1 in 2023.
While the car struggled to hold onto its tyre life in race conditions – the big downfall of the VF-23 – the qualifying performance of Hulkenberg is what Steiner pointed to as a reason behind the German proving himself as one of the best in the sport.
“I think they’re both good drivers,” Steiner said.
“Nico obviously he showed last year that in qualifying, I think he’s one of the best in Formula 1.
“If you give Kevin a good car and he starts fighting, he will be there.”