Multiple ex-Formula 1 drivers have all agreed that reigning World Champion Max Verstappen is just as good as the legendary Ayrton Senna; however, the Dutchman’s behaviour away from the circuit has been criticised.
Verstappen extended his championship lead to 14 points last Sunday after claiming his third win of the 2023 F1 season, following a sensational recovery from ninth on the grid at the Miami Grand Prix.
The win was the 38th of his F1 career, with the 25-year-old having matched Sebastian Vettel’s number of wins for Red Bull.
It means Verstappen would become Red Bull’s most decorated driver in terms of race wins, should he be victorious at the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why so many ex-drivers rate the double World Champion so highly.
“Of course he is,” Emanuele Pirro told La Gazzetta dello Sport, when asked if Verstappen is one of the greatest of all-time.
“He is at the level Senna and Schumacher were when they were at the stage he is at now,” said the 61-year-old.
“That is also thanks to the team, which is excellent not because it’s the best car but also because of the conditions they’ve put him in.
“Red Bull are very good at developing talent and making it grow.”
Whilst Verstappen’s driving talent is rated as highly as Senna’s, one ex-driver in particular doesn’t believe the duo can be compared off the circuit, especially after the Red Bull driver’s “unacceptable” rant in Azerbaijan.
Ex-F1 driver Rene Arnoux believes Verstappen is “very good” but that he needs to work on his attitude when not in his car.
“The Ayrton I met was very reserved, kind. Max is tougher,” said Arnoux.
“The reaction he had in Baku with Russell was unacceptable.
“Besides that, he’s very good – makes no mistakes and with such a fast, stable car, with the right traction, a deadly DRS. He’s in an ideal situation.
“I don’t see anyone who can even get close to him.”
2008 runner-up Felipe Massa recognised Verstappen’s ability of “racing without any other distractions”, with the Red Bull driver having dedicated his life purely to winning.
“He has a lot of say within the team – everyone follows him and is on his side,” said the Brazilian.
“It is even difficult to think that the limitations in the wind tunnel could hurt their performance this year.
“But there is another winning feature of Verstappen – that he is focused only on racing without any other distractions. If he could, he’d be in the simulator or on the track 24 hours a day.”