Le Mans winner Richard Bradley says Max Verstappen is yet to show he can do what the true greats can, that being to win in inferior machinery and push a team to the F1 summit, which is why he tips him to ultimately join Ferrari.
Having made the step up from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2016, Verstappen spent the following years doing all he could to pick up any scraps offered from the dominant Mercedes team, but by 2021 Red Bull had provided a title-worthy challenger and Verstappen used it to full effect, clinching his first World Championship on the last lap of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes have since fallen away from the title battle after the introduction of the ground effect regulations from 2022, and minus a brief surge from Ferrari at the start of that year, Verstappen and Red Bull have been the dominant combination ever since.
However, sportscar driver Bradley, winner in the LMP2 category at Le Mans in 2015, believes Verstappen is the type of person that should this domination continue and the question marks arise over whether he truly is among the F1 greats, then he would look to emulate some famous names of the past to prove that he is.
Bradley name-dropped the likes of Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton as drivers who have proved their elite status by winning in cars that did not set the standard and ultimately dragging teams to the top.
Schumacher did that to devastating effect with Ferrari, and that is the team which Bradley believes Verstappen will ultimately select with which to do the same.
“I think that Max is going to end up at Ferrari in a couple of years,” he told On Track GP.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, I think 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 ‘okay, 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 had two 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 [Michael] 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, there’s no secret, he’s 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.”
Red Bull have taken a perfect seven wins from seven to start the F1 2023 campaign, five of those going Verstappen’s way with his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship already standing at 53 points over team-mate Sergio Perez.