Fans on social media are torn as to whether Max Verstappen is a better Red Bull driver than Sebastian Vettel was in his prime.
Vettel claimed 38 victories with the Milton Keynes side in five seasons with the team, claiming four Drivers’ Championships while winning four constructors’ titles together with Mark Webber despite a rocky relationship between the pair at times.
He would then move on to Ferrari following a disappointing 2014 in which he scored four podiums, and was out-performed by new signing Daniel Ricciardo who joined from junior team Toro Rosso – now AlphaTauri.
He was replaced by Daniil Kvyat but, almost ironically, it was contact with the German that lost Kvyat his seat, and he would be dropped back to the junior team. Enter Verstappen.
The then-18-year-old became the youngest ever race winner on his Red Bull debut at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016, and has since claimed 19 more on his way to a dramatic and controversial title victory over Sir Lewis Hamilton last season.
Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko had no doubt in his mind as to who is the better Red Bull champion when asked his opinion.
“Yes, without a doubt [Verstappen] is. What makes him stand out the most? He doesn’t need a warm-up,” he previously told Servus TV.
“If it rains somewhere, the others do five or eight laps. Then Max goes out and sets the fastest time on the first lap.”
A Verstappen fan on Twitter actually jokingly disagrees with this notion, saying: “Prime Sebastian Vettel owns Max Verstappen.”
This sparked a discussion, with one fan sharing a different view.
“As a Seb fan I disagree,” they replied.
“Max beat statistically, the greatest driver ever in a worse car in his first ever title battle.
“Seb beat Alonso who was in the 4th fastest car, Lewis in an unreliable McLaren losing him 50+ points, and Kimi coming off a 2 year sabbatical.”
This attracted the argument that the Dutchman only won his championship due to the controversial late Safety Car by race director Michael Masi, which made for more entertaining Twitter content.
“I mean, Max didn’t really beat the greatest ever driver though did he,” another user responded.
“Not legitimately, at least. He has zero fairly won championships, so it’s actually stupid to compare him to multiple or even single champions at this time.”
Another fan agreed with the rationale that Vettel proved himself a better champion at Red Bull than Verstappen.
“Prime Sebastian Vettel owns everyone,” was their response.
Ultimately, it is near impossible to compare two elite drivers from two different eras, particularly when they are now at completely different stages of their career, but it has proven a fascinating debate to have.
Depending on the 24-year-old’s success in the upcoming season, it is a debate that may well rage on.