Stefano Domenicali calls Max Verstappen a ‘cannibal’

Max Verstappen leads the 2022 championship having taken the crown last year.

Formula 1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, has likened reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, to seven-time champion, Michael Schumacher.

Domenicali worked with Schumacher for 11 years while at Ferrari, and he would share the paddock with the German again for three years when Mercedes signed him in 2010.

The former Ferrari team principal, who left that role in 2014, took up his current position at the beginning of last year, so he has had a clear view of Verstappen’s mannerisms and practices.

Schumacher was always known for his natural pace, as well as the incredibly meticulous way he went about the technical side of the sport.

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The now 53-year-old would spend hours at the racetrack, and hours at Maranello, working with mechanics and engineers to perfect the set-up of the car.

He was also a big team player, and his close rapport with everyone at the team made it a solid, and ultimately winning, dynamic.

Further, he was aggressive, and particularly in Verstappen’s early years in F1, he shared that characteristic.

But Domenicali sees an evolution there in that the 24-year-old has learned to channel his emotions, and remain fully concentrated on the job at hand.

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“[Verstappen] resembles [Schumacher] because he focuses on everything he does on the track,” the Italian said in conversation with Corriere della Sera.

“He has matured a lot, he has learned to manage his emotions. 

“He is a cannibal, he doesn’t look anyone in the face, and in this he reminds me so much of Michael.”

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Having won the championship in dramatic fashion in Abu Dhabi last year, this season looks as though it is going to be a lot more comfortable for Verstappen.

He has already equalled his tally of race wins from last year by claiming 11 of the opening 16 rounds of the season, and he leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 116 points in the Drivers’ Standings.

The Dutchman will have a chance to wrap up his second title next time out in Singapore, but if he does not manage it there, the Japanese Grand Prix will surely be the scene of championship celebrations for him and Red Bull.