2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg believes Max Verstappen is “getting close” to being amongst the top-five greatest F1 drivers of all-time, following another successful defence of his title.
Second place in last Saturday’s sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix sealed the Dutchman his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship, putting him level with the likes of the legendary Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda.
Verstappen didn’t even need to finish the sprint to clinch the crown, as Sergio Perez effectively had to win to keep the title fight alive.
However, the Mexican crashing out at Turn 2 saw Verstappen reclaim his title before the sprint even concluded.
The 26-year-old celebrated his third title in perfect fashion, by winning the race from pole position on the Sunday.
His victory at the Lusail International Circuit marked his 14th win from the 17 completed races this season, putting him one short of matching his record for most wins in a single campaign.
Verstappen broke the record for most wins in a season in 2022, a record he has five races left to try and eclipse.
It’s been a sensational year for the Dutchman, who even broke the record for most wins in a row.
His recent win at the Italian Grand Prix marked his 10th in a row, eclipsing Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine.
Verstappen is now just one championship away from becoming the most successful Red Bull driver of all-time, with Vettel’s fourth title being the only difference between the duo.
With him still being contracted to Red Bull for another five seasons, every record is on the cards for Verstappen, who currently sits on 49 race wins.
If he wins all of the remaining races, then he’ll overtake Vettel’s 53 career victories at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, which would move the Dutch driver up to third on the all-time wins list.
Rosberg admitted in Qatar that Verstappen’s most recent title is “really historic”, with him getting ever closer to being in the same bracket as the greatest drivers of all-time.
“It’s really historic,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. “It’s unbelievable, the run of form he’s had. The level that he’s driving at, the records he’s beating.
“On for three titles now in a row, unreal. He’s really getting close to those even top five greatest of all time now.
“It’s spectacular with the way he’s driving. He’s really getting close to the Fangios and Schumachers and Sennas and Hamiltons. Phenomenal.”