Red Bull driver and reigning world champion Max Verstappen has been praised by 2009 world champion Jenson Button.
At the age of 17, Verstappen became the youngest driver in Formula 1 history, as he was snapped up by Toro Rosso for the 2015 season – quickly becoming a driver for Red Bull in 2016.
However, while Verstappen’s talent was clear as soon as he appeared on the grid, Button has told Sky Sports F1 that he could not confidently say that he is the best right now or in Formula 1 history.
“Naturally gifted? Yes. Is he the best? I don’t know if he’s the best driver that has ever lived or the best in F1 now,” the Brit said.
Button went on to question the Dutchman’s driving skills by comparing Verstappen to Mercedes driver Sir Lewis Hamilton.
“When you look at Lewis, you think he is a much more complete racing driver with a lot more experience, maybe that’s why,” he opined.
It was not until 2021 that Verstappen had his first opportunity at becoming world champion, and he took advantage of having a front-running car to win his maiden F1 title.
It is interesting to note that Verstappen does come from a racing family, with his father Jos Verstappen, who started over 100 grands prix in Formula 1, while his mother Sophie Kumpen was a champion in karting.
When racing for Williams, Button had the chance to compete against Max’s dad in the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix.
“I raced against his dad and my first points finish was in Brazil in my second race. To get that point, I had to overtake his dad, Jos,” he said.
“You don’t want to get him upset. There was a little bit of aggression there.”
Button went on to speak about Verstappen’s mother and how they were team-mates in karting.
“She was a professional and one of the best in the world, so it’s definitely in the blood.”
Commenting on Verstappen’s bid to defend his title in 2022, Button said that he will need to work extremely hard despite him having an abundance of natural talent.
“[Verstappen] has got to work hard,” Button said. “Even if you think you’re the best, there’s still more you can do to be better. That’s where Michael Schumacher was so strong.”
The 24-year-old currently sits third in the Drivers’ Standings on 25 points, while Charles Leclerc tops the table on 45 points.
The Dutchman won the second round of the season and looked set to finish P2 at the season-opener in Bahrain, but a mechanical failure put pay to his race.