Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen? Verdict delivered by ex-Red Bull engineer

Thomas Maher
Red Bull World Champions Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull F1 icons Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull’s former head of race engineering has weighed up the similarities and differences between the team’s two World Champion talents.

Guillaume Rocquelin, colloquially known as ‘Rocky’, was Sebastian Vettel’s race engineer during the German driver’s run of four titles between 2010 and ’13.

Rocquelin was promoted to the team’s head of race engineering from 2015 until ’22, taking in Max Verstappen’s early years with the team before his rise to clinch his maiden titles in ’21 and ’22.

Guillaume Rocquelin: Sebastian Vettel was more complete… to start

Now overseeing Red Bull’s driver academy, there are very few better placed to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the two dominant Red Bull champions who have crushed the opposition during title years.

Intriguingly, Rocquelin believes Verstappen still has some critical weaknesses in comparison to Vettel.

“I think Sebastian was a more complete driver than Max when he came to our team,” Rocquelin said on Eurosport France’s Les Fous du Volant podcast.

“On a professional, technical, mediation level… he was trained at the [Michael] Schumacher school, he was his idol. He asked a lot of questions, took a lot of notes, and when he came up with us, he was very rigorous. It’s no coincidence that he won several titles. He was better prepared technically and mentally.

“Max had maybe more natural talent, that’s what he relied on more. But Sebastian was the most complete.

“Max has always been a ‘boss’. He has great self-confidence, knows what he wants, and is very straightforward.

“But I’ll be honest: Max is technically weak compared to other drivers we have worked with. I think he still has a lot of progress to make. He is a leader in his attitude, and in his results. But I think he can improve from a technical point of view and in the way he develops the car.” recommends

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But, while Verstappen may lag behind Vettel in that area – according to Rocquelin – the Dutch driver’s performance level has shown no signs of inconsistency or a hint of dipping.

“What has struck me most is that he has somehow lost that ‘desperate hunger’ he had last year,” said Rocquelin.

“He’s gained in maturity. He’s gained in consistency. Winning the championship has given him a lot of confidence, and he’s driving differently.

“You can’t necessarily talk about a single trigger. It’s a gradual thing, there have been several stages. He started in F1 very young, with a lot of ambition and not necessarily the maturity that comes with it. And he started with Toro Rosso, which maybe had less scope and experience.

“Then those steps started when he came to Red Bull. There was more confidence in the team, a good track record, he was closer to his goal. He immediately won a race with us, which allowed him to take a step forward. He gradually won more races and developed a bond with his engineers.”

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