Max Verstappen told what he must do to join Formula 1’s elite

Le Mans Winner Richard Bradley has highlighted the missing element in Max Verstappen's career.

In the world of Formula 1, Max Verstappen’s rise to stardom has been nothing short of remarkable.

With numerous victories under his belt and two world championships to his name at just 25 years old, Verstappen is already being hailed as one of the sport’s greats. 

However, according to Le Mans winner Richard Bradley, there is one crucial element missing in Verstappen’s quest to solidify his all-time great status: the ability to take inferior machinery beyond its limits.

Bradley, who achieved glory in the legendary 24-hour race in France, points to past Formula 1 legends who showcased their greatness even when not piloting dominant cars. 

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“Since he’s gone into Red Bull, he’s always had a car that’s been capable of fighting,” Bradley told the On Track GP podcast.

“And all of the all-time greats, at some point, they took something which wasn’t the best equipment, and they made it work.”

He specifically mentions Verstappen’s debut season with Toro Rosso, where he failed to stand out as he does now. 

While acknowledging Verstappen’s current standing among the best in the sport, Bradley believes that truly exceptional drivers have the capacity to excel in less competitive equipment.

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“When he was at Toro Rosso, which is now AlphaTauri, he was very level with Carlos [Sainz], so I’m still waiting to see that that last bit to prove his greatness – but the level he’s on now, it’s Schumacher-esque, it’s absolutely dominant.”

The sportscar racer draws parallels to the careers of Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, and Ayrton Senna, emphasising moments when they showcased their prowess in subpar machinery. 

Hamilton’s 2009 season with McLaren, Schumacher’s early championship-winning years, and Senna’s memorable victory at the 1993 Donington Grand Prix serve as prime examples of their ability to make the best of challenging circumstances. 

In contrast, Verstappen has yet to demonstrate such resilience.

Bradley acknowledges Verstappen’s dominant form in recent years, likening it to the era of Schumacher’s dominance. 

However, he believes that true greatness lies in a driver’s ability to rise above unfavourable conditions. 

Drawing comparisons to Fernando Alonso, Bradley notes that despite driving lacklustre cars for much of his career, Alonso’s remarkable skills allowed him to consistently outperform his teammates and extract exceptional performance from his vehicles.

While Verstappen has undoubtedly showcased his talent and achieved remarkable success, Bradley suggests that his legacy as an all-time great will require overcoming the challenges posed by inferior machinery. 

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The ebbs and flows of Formula 1’s regulation changes will inevitably present Verstappen with the opportunity to prove himself in less competitive cars. 

Bradley expresses confidence that Verstappen possesses the ability to rise to the occasion and hopes to witness the undeniable proof of his greatness.

“I do think that he’ll be able to rise to the challenge and be up to it, 100%, but you just want proof of it.”