F1 boss: ‘Max is without doubt the benchmark’

Ross Brawn played an instrumental part in Michael Schumacher's dominant period from 2000-2004.

Max Verstappen is certainly regarded very highly by some of the most elite figures in Formula 1, none more so than F1’s managing director Ross Brawn.

Brawn is someone who knows exactly what they are talking about when it comes to exceptional drivers, having played an instrumental role in Michael Schumacher’s career at both Benetton and Ferrari.

The 67-year-old, who is set to retire at the end of the year, was dubbed as the “mastermind”, by the seven-time World Champion and is one of the most respected individuals in the paddock.

Brawn famously bought out the Honda F1 team at the end of 2008, which became known as Brawn GP in 2009.

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After winning both titles in their debut season, Brawn GP was bought out by Mercedes, who, of course, are one of the leading sides on the grid today.

Brawn was Ferrari’s technical director during his time working alongside Schumacher; he also held the same role at Benetton.

Verstappen’s recent victory from P14 to first at the Belgian Grand Prix, reminded Brawn of Mick Schumacher’s father “at his best”, with the Briton explaining that you can “feel this certain magic” when watching a driver on “another planet”.

“His dominance at Spa reminded me of Michael Schumacher at his best,” said Brawn.

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“When you have a perfect car and drivers like Michael or Max in the cockpit, they drive like they are on another planet. Then, as a spectator, you feel this certain magic.

“You have to remember that there is always another driver with the same car who cannot make that difference. Of course we want hard battles for the lead with many drivers. But at the same time, don’t we want to see the magicians who stand out from the rest?”

The Dutchman can incredibly claim his second consecutive World Championship at this weekend’s returning Singapore Grand Prix, despite there still being six races remaining (including Singapore).

This is largely thanks to having won 11 of the 16 completed races this season, meaning he is just two race wins behind Schumacher’s joint record with Sebastian Vettel of 13 wins in a single season.

Verstappen could match this milestone at the Japanese Grand Prix, before eclipsing it at the United States Grand Prix.

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Brawn is certain that the Red Bull driver is the “benchmark” but needs to prove that he can win when the car is “not so good”, something which was one of Schumacher’s “many strengths”.

“Max is without doubt the benchmark. Just like Michael,” added Brawn.

“The future will show whether he can make the most of a race day when the car is not so good. That was one of Michael’s many strengths. But Max is still young and seems to have taken a step in the right direction in this too.”