Former Red Bull junior Jak Crawford has ignored Max Verstappen in F1’s greatest-of-all-time debate, claiming Michael Schumacher is the best driver in the sport’s history.
Yet the teenager did concede that Verstappen is “probably the fastest” to have ever sat in the cockpit of a grand prix car.
Verstappen has firmly entered the conversation after a historic 2023 season in which he broke a wide array of F1 records, easing to a third straight World Championship by claiming 19 victories out of a possible 22 races.
Max Verstappen overlooked by ex-Red Bull junior
Ten of those wins came consecutively, with Verstappen unbeaten between the Miami Grand Prix in May 7 and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 3 to break ex-Red Bull star Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 tally of nine straight victories.
At 26, Verstappen has won 44 of the last 66 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021 and is the overwhelming favourite to make it four titles in a row in 2024.
Despite Verstappen’s eye-watering statistics, Crawford believes seven-time World Champion Schumacher – who dominated F1 with Ferrari at the turn of the century – remains the greatest of all.
Asked to name the best driver in history during an appearance on the Track Limits podcast, he said: “I think Schumacher has to be.
“I’d say Verstappen is probably the fastest of all time. But looking at everything Schumacher did, he is.”
Crawford’s comments come after Le Mans winner Richard Bradley last year tipped Verstappen to move to Ferrari in the near future to cement his greatness by returning the team to winning ways.
Speaking via On Track GP, the YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports, Bradley said: “I think that Max is going to end up at Ferrari in a couple of years.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, especially if he keeps on winning titles and he starts to get complacent and people start saying: ‘Oh, is he the greatest of all time?’
“Max is the sort of guy that goes: ‘OK, well, I’ll do what Schumacher did: I’ll take Ferrari from not being in the position to win, to make them World Champions.’
“The reason I think this is because Max is on the path to greatness – we can all see that, he’s on a meteoric rise, he’s dominant at the minute, he’s [won] World Championships in the Red Bull – but we’ve never actually seen him do what defines the true greats.
“And when I say that, we look at Schumacher, we look at [Ayrton] Senna, [Lewis] Hamilton and the one thing that defines all of these guys is that they were able to win in a substandard car and take a manufacturer to a position where they weren’t winning at the time, but then they’re able to bring them back there.
“Schumacher doing it with Ferrari, we had Senna when he was at Lotus, we had Hamilton at McLaren after the the new rules came in in 2009 and then, of course, with Mercedes.
“Whilst Max is doing exactly what he needs to do in a very, very good team and car, I think he’s going to want to prove himself because Max -it’s no secret – is quite a proud person to say the least and he’s going to want to show that he is one of the true all-time greats.
“And I can see him wanting to bring Ferrari back to the glory that they had with Schumacher in the next few years.
“How this might look, I don’t know. When this might happen, we’re not sure.
“He’s still young and he’s still got a bit of time, but I’d be quite confident that maybe after the next five years – if he’s got to the level of five or so championships, which I think is very real especially if the rules don’t change until 2026 – I think it’s something to keep an eye on.”