Ex-Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella believes Charles Leclerc is the only driver who compares to reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman being the sort of racer who’s “born once every 20 years”.
Verstappen is undoubtedly a phenomenal talent, with him currently breaking records with ease despite being only 25 years old.
Last season alone, the Red Bull star broke the records for most wins in a season and most points accumulated in a campaign, as he cruised to a second consecutive title.
Unless something catastrophic happens, the likelihood is that he’ll claim a third consecutive title this year, putting him amongst the likes of Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda as a three-time World Champion.
What makes it all even more astonishing, is that whilst he’s still incredibly young, 2023 is already his ninth season at the pinnacle of motorsport, due to having made his debut in 2015 when aged just 17.
Verstappen is what’s referred to in motorsport as an ‘alien’, a driver who is simply able to do things that others cannot.
He will go down as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all-time, with his raw ability alone arguably putting him alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.
Fisichella believes Verstappen is a “complete” driver, with only Leclerc being similar to him in regard to their talent.
“He goes fast in the wet, in the dry, in the qualifying flying lap and in the race,” Fisichella told Gazzetta.
“He is complete. If we talk about precocity, considering what he has done and is doing at his age, he is even ahead of the greats of the past who preceded him.
“Only Charles Leclerc can be compared to him in this respect. And in any case, a driver like Verstappen is born once every 20 years.”
When he was signed by Toro Rosso (known now as AlphaTauri) for the 2015 F1 season, it turned several heads.
Verstappen incredibly made the leap from European F3 to F1, with Toro Rosso having put the Dutchman in the car during FP1 at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
The Red Bull family knew what he was capable of, something he proved when he claimed his first win in what was his very first race for Red Bull after making the switch at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix from the sister team.
“Verstappen has been a talent ever since he raced in karts, he arrived in Formula 1 at 17 and won his first Grand Prix as soon as he moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, at 18 years and 7 months,” Fisichella added.
“What do you want to say to someone like that? At first he crashed, he made some inexperienced mistakes, while now he is almost never wrong. He has acquired an incredible consistency of performance, eliminating the weak points.”